I’ve met far more executives whose digital profiles lacked oomph than aspiring leaders with the same problem. Why is that? Executives tell me they don’t have time and frankly are often thoroughly disinterested. They’re busy getting the job done, without much thought to the next role in their career. Additionally though, it’s likely been a while since they had to be proactive in career search and many still attribute a digital profile with finding a new job.
WHAT IS YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT?
In short, it’s what you see in a Google search of your name. For many your digital presence is your online résumé and social media pages. But it’s more than that too. For most professionals it’s a LinkedIn Profile, along with evidence of publications, articles and speaking engagements.
Sure, there’s a good deal of rhetoric for millenials with tips for avoiding negative content on facebook or instagram, but that’s less a challenge for Leaders who don’t tend to have as much time for the more social aspect of social media anyway.
THREE COMPELLING REASONS TO IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL PROFILE
A strong digital profile is not just for extraverts. Neither is it the exclusive domain of those in the market for their next job move.
“I have a LinkedIn profile, although it’s little more than my name and a couple of past job titles… I’m not even sure this job is on there actually” – so then you really don’t have a profile at all.
“I’m not in the market for a new job, I really don’t need to be visible online.” Job offers are always great for your confidence, even if you’re not looking to make a move. Aside from job offers, there are many opportunities that you can take advantage of today- well ahead of career moves, to put you in a far stronger position when it is time to take that next step.
1. Opportunity is knocking. Of course you’ll receive an electronic shoulder-tap from time to time for a great new job. But even while staying put you might be interested in exploring board involvement, participation in industry forums, associations or projects, contribution to articles and speaking opportunities. With a strong online presence, those looking for people with your expertise can find you.
Rich Evans of The Village Voice describes social media as our inevitable, primal return to community. Once we lived in tribes then villages, with our support community close by. Everyone knew your business. Over the last few decades our families are far more geographically spread, our social lives consumed by busy-ness to the point of disconnection. Rich says social media feeds an intrinsic need to connect, as well as serves to help us get things done. If you’re in a pickle, it’s better to get someone through word of mouth, right?
Social media helps you build that bridge. You just need to choose the forms that are right for your purposes.
2. Hire stronger performers. Quality employees have initiative and curiosity, whatever the role they’re applying for. Anyone with those qualities is going to check you out, along with your business, before deciding to commit to a career under your tutelage. Quality employees are often spoilt for choice. If your online presence is impressive, your next high performer will perceive that they can learn a good deal from you. It’s a case of your personal brand working in tandem with your business’ employment brand, in winning the war for talent. When you have the strongest team you get the strongest results, right?
3. Bargaining Power. Opportunity begets opportunity.
So let’s fast-forward 6 months. Your profile brands you as a leader in your knowledge area and you’ve published a blog or two on your own LinkedIn profile. You’ve been carving out 15 minutes each Friday to extend your network, read a couple of articles and join the conversation among your extended network. Opportunities start to come your way. Your team is becoming stronger with the overall rise in calibre of new hires. Your internal reputation and your external profile are on the increase. Surely that’s a position of power for your next salary negotiation?
How often have you heard “Look at my résumé now: even I think I’m perfect for the job!” I’ve heard it lots. With a great profile, whether it’s a Word doc résumé or on online, you feel more confident, walk taller. Like killer heels without the killer back-pain.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT DIGITAL PROFILE?
What you’re great at and what you stand for are clear.
All leaders need to have some operational, some strategic, some financial, some functional and a lot of people capabilities. But if that combined mix is all you’re selling, it sounds like a pretty boring product that’s quite common among senior managers. These two questions might be useful:
“What are you known for?”
“What do you want to be known for?”
BREVITY – Remember that people will read less online than they will in print. In theory your LinkedIn profile could just be a copy & paste of your résumé. In reality you could start there, then edit it back by half. It should be gripping, bite-sized. Talk highlights. Long wordy paragraphs don’t work online. If this is a challenge for you, get onto Twitter quickly: the ‘140 characters or less’ parameter provides excellent training!
SUMMARY – Most people leave this blank. It’s what makes you 3 dimensional. It’s where you get to talk to your passions. If you’re clear with the world about what you want to be doing, that’s what they’ll call you for.
I understand there’s a risk in expressing too narrow a focus. Unless you’re a narrow-field specialist, you might be concerned about pigeonholing. Like the person who takes a golf lesson and suddenly every gift forever more is tees, balls and collared t.shirts.
But by not standing for something in particular, you’re forgettable. Your summary is typically a few very short paragraphs. A short story that expresses either your journey or your strengths. Some choose to incorporate a little of the personal here and many don’t. It’s up to you, but just be sure it’s relevant. Once it’s written, sit back and ask: does it show what I’m known for?
Kathleen Elkins recently wrote of a significantly impactful résumé addition. Jeff Scardino, a senior creative at Ogilvy & Mather, set two profiles to work. One he called his ‘relevant résumé’ and included “failures, bad references and non-skills”, while the other was a standard same-as-everyone-else résumé format. What a great attention-grabber! Kathleen says “The results were surprisingly lopsided. The regular résumé received one response and zero meeting requests, while the relevant résumé received eight responses and five meeting requests.”
Be known for something. Don’t be bland or you’ll be overlooked.
BRAND – you can change your tag line & you should. It’s rare to find 2 comparable senior roles with the same job title. If your actual job title (the auto-generated one) appears below your name, how will they find you? They’re unlikely to look for you by name, or by a convoluted or obscure title. Use an industry-recognised term for the work that you do and the level at which you operate.
URL – when you set up a Linkedin profile you’ll be assigned a number. You can change it though. I’m surprised at how often peoples names are still available. Not everyone knows about this little feature! If your name isn’t available, try a variation (surname first, include your middle name etc).
Of course there are many resources available for helping you to get your digital presence up to speed. Indeed, our some of Gender Gap Gone Career Coaches can help you with it. But you’re looking to do it yourself, in my opinion the very best resource is by Louise Fletcher of Blue Sky Résumés in New York. Louise has written The Blue Sky Guide To LinkedIn and you can purchase and download very quickly. Please note I have no affiliation with Louise but have certainly seen MANY people benefit from this resource. If you’re looking for a comprehensive step by step how-to, with lots of examples, this is it.
TWITTER – what is it that you want to be known for? You’re a dynamite kisser? You run a half marathon every 3 months? You’re exceptional at getting to the crux of business process issues and coming up with high ROI, low impact recommendations for improvement? Whatever it is you want to hang your hat on, search the topic in the online media. Find the conversation and follow it. (Of course, you know I’m joking about the kissing, right? I can’t think what kind of path you might be on if that’s a career advantage!)
Still not sure who to follow? Start with some news sites that interest you or some public figures you’ve heard speak in your interest area. Interested in leadership and women on the rise? Follow us! @GGapGone You’ll soon see a bevy of smart ideas coming from across the globe.
OKAY SO THAT’S DONE, YOU’RE ONLINE. SO NOW WHAT?
- Add your Linkedin URL to your résumé.
- Connect with people. But be selective. Your connections should be people you know or have worked with.
- Be active. If you see an article while reading the AFRonline, post it to LinkedIn. A colleague has written a post? If you believe the content has merit, share it. Share it on LI, share it on Twitter.
- Get published. Writing a post on Linkedin is the simplest thing in the world.
Once you’ve got LinkedIn working for you, your presence elsewhere will start to grow. Business journalists want sources, conference organisers want speakers, others in your industry want to connect.
Be brave. Make time for it and let it work for you.
Cath Nolan is the Founder and Director at Gender Gap Gone (gapgone.com.au) as well as Director of CN Consulting, est. 2007. An Executive Coach with a strong background in all areas of individual and organisational development, Catherine is passionate about the impact of individual empowerment in seeing the Gender Gap Gone.