Building an online presence
This is a supplementary blog post to the session that I ran at the Northern Power Futures event in Manchester Complex Central. I hope that you find it useful!
Note: I am talking solely from personal experience and what has worked for me. See what you can take away and apply to your own online life!
So what’s the big deal?
It is increasingly becoming more important that we take a look at our online presence. A few years ago, Googling someone wasn’t something someone would do. It didn’t really exist at all. But how many times have we heard stories about how impactful a good (or bad) social media presence is in the job market? We are slowly moving from traditional CVs and Covering Letters to getting an overall idea of a person through their digital space.
Knowing this, when potential employers (or generally anyone as we also move towards a gig economy) search you up… what do you want them to see?
A study from CareerBuilder has shown that 70% of employers use social media screen prior to hiring – 10% higher than only a year ago. I also found it interesting that some employers are less likely to interview you if you can’t be found online. This demonstrates how truly important it is to care about your online presence and the immense opportunity that has been created through this new media.
Social media is great for entertainment and connecting with friends and family, but why not leverage it to your advantage? To create networks, to get your voice heard, to shine!
I personally have seen the huge impact having a good online presence has on just about everything. I started taking this seriously in 2016 (the year I always refer back to as my “wake up call”) and have since been so intrigued in the growing digital world and the untapped potential it has. A few personal stories of success include examples from different social media networks, I’d like to illustrate just a few here:
- LinkedIn – I sent my LinkedIn profile as a CV to recruiters in search of my placement year at university. I was fed up of customizing my CV to each company, and never passing the screening point because of the lack of keywords in the document. So, I tried a different approach – where employers could see me…
me. Because of the hard work that I put into trying to cultivate the best profile I could, I finally got an interview! And although I didn’t end up getting the job (because of timings), this illustrated the impact of a good profile. Since then, I’ve utilized every feature LinkedIn has to offer – I’ve used it to network beyond my current connections which led to my first post-university summer placement. It’s also really cool hearing “wow, your LinkedIn profile is incredible” hard work pays off! ☺️ as
- Twitter – I’ve been an avid Twitter user since around 2009. I have numerous examples of what Twitter has given me in opportunities but I’ll focus on the coolest part-time job ever. Last year, I was at a
HackSheffieldhackathon where I live-tweeted about the event. The next day, I received an email from someone at my university who was keen in sitting down to chat about working together on a project. He had seen my tweets about the hackathon, which intrigued him and further led him to dig more information about me and my blog and urged him to send that email. I ended up being the University’s vlogger for the year i.e. the coolest part-time job ever.
- My blog – I have been describing my blog as my online diary for years now, it truly has been my place of expression and has helped me fulfill my purpose in connecting and inspiring others. My blog has grown over the last couple of years and because of this, I’ve had opportunities to work with some fantastic brands and companies, secured speaking gigs and get my name out there.
- My portfolio – This has been my way of bringing in all my interests and work together, helping me secure my current dev role, freelance dev jobs and speaking gigs!
I assumed that when I ask, “Which social network is the best for opportunities?” Folks would always point to LinkedIn – that is exactly what happened in my workshop! But I hope that this demonstrates that it is beyond LinkedIn, you can truly tap into different social media and unlock different audiences, different opportunities, and potential from each – it truly is exciting!
What you can do today
Before we jump into anything, it is so important to understand why you’re wanting to do what you want to do. Similar to how big brands have their values, it is important to identify your own. It is so easy nowadays to get so caught up in the millions of different feeds, all telling you to be this, to do that… it can be easy to get lost and lose your why. People crave authenticity in a sea of fake news, filtered images, and people. The way to authenticity? Values.
⚠️ Action point: Identify your top 3 values. They should reflect everything that you you do online.
Who do you want to attract? Answering this question will guide what you plan for your content i.e. what you write, create, cultivate into your space.
⚠️ Action point: Who do I want to attract? Think of…
- The auidence
- The industry
- The brands
- The opportunities
Understand each platform’s secrets
Understanding how you can utilize every platform’s features is not only powerful but also a lot of fun! These features can help you tell your story better and help you stand out from the crowd. Be creative!
⚠️ Action point: Spend some time browsing each social platform.
Some examples of what I’ve done:
- Twitter Moments – I’ve used to show instant recommendations and to group together all of my blog posts for each year
- LinkedIn Media section – I’ve used to brighten up and bring my work to life ranging from article features to videos
- Instagram – I’ve made use of locations on IG stories and hashtags as well as understood my followers most active times which is useful to increase engagement and exposure. The right approach can land perfect opportunities
- Your website – how can you make it different? I’ve embedded my Twitter moments in mine as well as a YouTube playlist with all my talks which can be easily browsed on the website itself.
🛠 Doing stage
Create unique visuals, use personal words and tools that gets you and your message across
Think of your favorite brand. Don’t you love their logo or slogan/catch-phrase? Yeah, me too. Although it is not necessary that you need a logo or slogan, it is useful to have because people will associate you to whatever it is all the time. It’ll be part of your brand. Personally, I made use of the fact that purple is my favorite color and made sure that the way people identify me is with that color with my logo. This really took off this year and now, I have inboxes full of purple hearts (💜) as well as comments thrown here and there about my purple or… #pawple. 🙈
Which brings me to… words. Treat this the same as your logo. Be mindful of your words, do they reflect who you want to be known as? Create personal words/slogans that align to your values, who you are and who you would like to be known as. My friends in the Code First: Girls community had dubbed me as “Powerhouse” (also referring back to my Biomedical Sciences degree) so I made use of it, my bios all have a mention of “Powerhouse” in them.
In addition to this, I have hashtags that reflect things that I am all about, for example, health has become a huge part of who I am and so, #pawgainz was born. From this, I have been able to identify an audience I want to target, people gradually start to recognize it and associate you with that. Boom. A brand.
⚠️Action point: This is mostly a self-reflection exercise. Have a look at your social profiles, what does it show? Look at colours, photos, words you’re using in your bio and content. What do you want it to show? Think about visuals and maybe writing your bio to reflect who you are.
- Make sure you fully complete your profile
- Write a bio that makes you different from others, that gets people interested and stuck to your profile.
- Upload a photo that you want people to recognise you with
- Use the header feature to utilise to your advantage – visuals are key to branding
- Create Personal words e.g. hashtags
Some of my favourite tools:
- Adobe Creative Cloud – Photoshop, Illustrator
Connect with others, because everybody loves humans.
Despite the rise of the internet, a digital, and maybe robots one day… People still love talking to other people. Be human. You build networks by engaging with others. This is a key part of online presence. Cultivating a support online community creates a culture that is beneficial for all – increasing exposure, opportunities, reach and most importantly, creating lasting friendships. 💜
⚠️Action point: Follow and interact with other like-minded folks, check out their work, comment on their work and share.
Let’s be real, how many times have you seen this advice in your life? Probably lots. Because it applies to literally everything. The more consistent work you put into a thing, the more you will get out. Things vary in their timings of “rewards”, but without a doubt, they will come.
⚠️ Action point: Consistency = Habit
I wanted to split this consistency in the online world advice into two:
- Be consistent in your message (your values help with this) This means don’t go tweeting about something publicly but then in a seperate account tweet something that is completely the opposite. That’s not authentic, that’s not who you want to be.
- Being consistent also covers consistency in posting. Nobody interacts with inactive accounts. I would suggest posting something daily, but if that is too much weekly is a great place to start! I like using Buffer or Tweetdeck to schedule my tweets and messages – somedays I don’t even look at Twitter but have content out. Now, I’m not saying schedule your whole year (feel free to do so though) because publishing something in real time is also fantastic.
These were some questions I recieved after my workshop – thought it’d be good to share some here!
How do you start a blog?
Hey, I wrote a whole blog post about that!
How do you keep your private and public social media separate?
I love this question. This is my own personal experience and opinion by the way, but I used to have two accounts – a personal one and a public one. I quickly realized that a) managing one account is already a handful, b) I felt like I was switching from a public (what I wanted to others to see i.e. a constant highlight reel) to someone more human (who openly said it’s OK not to be OK) – I didn’t like that. So I ended up merging it all into one, for simplicity and to show others that you can be successful in building your career using your online presence where you are more human rather than a perfectly scripted robot.
Laura Betourne, a social media specialist at Uproar PR, said that “Employers with a strong company culture are looking at more than just your job experience.” She recommends that a candidate uses their “personal accounts to convey your personality, and share your hobbies and favorite pastimes.”
I want to do this, but I can’t justify getting a camera or equipment for it.
I totally feel you. I remember always wanting to buy PaulineNarvas.com but didn’t have the money for it. I want to remind you that although you can go ahead and buy a domain, a high-end camera or whatever, you can literally start with the free tools that are out there. You can create a free blog on WordPress or Blogger, you can create a free website on Wix, you can take photos and videos on your phone (it doesn’t have to be an expensive camera, they are slowly becoming the same thing anyway!), you can create logos and visuals on Powerpoint or free online tools – you don’t need Photoshop! Make the most of what you have, and just do it!
How do you balance living in the moment and documenting your life?
I think it literally just is mindfulness. I am so hyper-aware of when I spend too much time with my camera documenting things, rather than just sitting, observing and living in the moment. At that point, I know to put things away and just live. Social media can make it look like I’m online all the time though (scheduling game on point, what can I say 😂) but one IG story takes seconds! I think it is also really important to get into our minds that if you are offline for a week or two, all your hard work doesn’t suddenly disappear in fact, everything will more than likely be fine and you can just pick up where you left off.
More on building an online presence
— Penny Hindle (@PenelopeHindle) November 24, 2018
I have an online presence with accounts on all social medias and 2 blogs but didn’t know how to utilise this! @paulienuh gave us great tips we can use and demonstrated to us the power of social media. Thank you. Bonus: She is an amazing person. @NPFutures #NPFutures
— Mathsincontext (@mathsincontext) November 24, 2018
— Chloe S (@SpenceRChloe) November 24, 2018
— Andy Elwood 🍽 (@4ndyElwood) November 24, 2018
Sooo glad I had the opportunity to visit @NP_Futures for a couple of hours each day. Had great conversations with people who care and have learned some skills I can apply. Thank you to Simone and all of the team, volunteers that made it happen. pic.twitter.com/0Lq3dsdKNC
— Nikky – Becoming Storybook (@mystorybookcase) November 24, 2018