“Don’t think you are. Know you are.” This quote by Morpheus from The Matrix has always stayed with me and I find it apt for this post on owning and managing your digital being. For us today, simply existing in the real world is not enough. We also need to have an online presence that resonates with who we really are. These days, many people will look you up online before they meet you in person. It is this digital profile that creates people’s perceptions and expectations before actually meeting you in person. From business associates, clients, potential employers to investors, founders, and incubators, everybody makes sure to take a look at your social profile before forming an opinion. And it’s not like there is anything you can do practically to avoid this. Unless you are literally living under a rock, you will invariably have a digital presence. Then why not take control of what it reflects?
As a simple exercise, do a quick search with your name and see what pops up. Do you like everything you see? Do you believe it stands for an accurate representation of you? You can begin to build your brand from there. Keep in mind these basic guidelines:
Personal or Business. It can get a little hard to maintain the difference between personal accomplishments to business networking. But this is important. A good place to start is to keep these tools separate. For example, LinkedIn is a social network for professional contacts. What you share there should be strictly business. Engage in knowledgeable conversations and post work related updates. Twitter is another good example. Sharing a witty update here is actually quite alright. Of course, there might be a situation that, although is personal, the accomplishment is worth sharing everywhere. For example, if you’ve done a vigorous and challenging trek – you could share it on your professional network.
Consistency. You’ll probably hear a lot of this word. And that’s good, because this is a very important aspect of managing your digital presence. Whatever you choose to post, consistency is the key. Consistency across all your profiles in the digital world acts as a positive signal for anyone who looks you up.
Promote Yourself. There is no shame in a little self promotion. I’d even go as far as saying it’s healthy for you. What this means is capitalise on any opportunity to promote yourself. If you’ve written an article or are speaking at a conference – no matter how small or big. Find out if you can get the video clip of your session. Use this. If you have a little (or big) award from somewhere, a letter of appreciation from someone important, don’t hide it away. Feel free to let others know about your accomplishments.
Keep your profile information up to date. It is very easy to forget about the endless profiles you have and never update them. This should be avoided. Either have a very limited set of social media profiles or make sure they are all linked to be updated simultaneously. It does not bode well to see a twitter profile that was last active 5 months ago. Always make sure that your current work information is up-to-date. Professional networks like LinkedIn or Behance need to be current. Be aware of what is written about you. Set up alerts for any mention of your name in the digital world. You should know what your profile goes into and if you approve of it.
Blogging. Having and maintaining a blog is a whole category to itself. A blog is an extremely powerful tool to have for your personal brand. A well maintained blog gives the reader a very positive insight about the author. That said, a blog is not for everybody. Don’t have one for the sake of having one. A poorly written blog can do more harm than not having one.
A key tip to remember is not to project a certain personality that you like onto your digital presence. Try and keep it as close as you can to your real self.