Many women have concerns about their on line professional presence and posting their entire career histories onto LinkedIn and other professional networking sites. The recent trend of soft porn images being validated by their bosses, contacts or colleagues, has only fuelled their mistrust. The proliferation of fake profiles and inappropriate content also adds to this dilemma as does stories about women being stalked. Many women don’t feel comfortable knowing that they are searchable via major search engines for basic personal safety reasons.
But many struggle to accept that they are researched on line before a face-to-face meeting, whether it’s as a candidate or even as a date. Research suggests that hiring managers and recruiters look at online professional profiles before a resume now. Research from Catalyst suggests that women tend to seek external opportunities less frequently than their male colleagues, very often their on line professional presence is seriously neglected.
Control what you can
The important factor is to take charge of what you can control. Whether you like it or not, you already have an online professional presence which contributes to your personal brand. I have heard companies and business schools suggest that an online professional presence does not need to be part of personal branding coaching. This is a way of thinking that is at least 10 years out of date. You don’t need to be a job seeker to be concerned about how you present yourself in the public domain. This is just as much about online professional presence as a personal appearance. It is a key part to building up an impactful message which is a key element of executive presence.
Here are 5 ways to maintain a strong online professional presence
These are 5 minimum activities that a professional woman should carry out. Obviously any active job seeker needs to make a greater effort
1. Audit the current situation
“Is the first page the best information about you? In other words, if someone were researching you professionally, is this what you would want them to find?”
I would add you should do this on a friend’s computer to get a more neutral view. Many people don’t bother to check what their name is associated with. An MBA student was horrified had the same name as exotic dancer with a very strongly SEO’d profile and some very interesting boudoir images. She got around this by putting her credentials (LLM, MBA) in the name field of her LinkedIn profile to anchor her professional reputation.
2. Complete your LinkedIn Profile
It’s important to establish your professional credentials with a complete LinkedIn profile and professional photo. The number of images of women not in professional attire seems to be on the increase. If you don’t want inappropriate interaction then it’s best not to post images in evening or night-out dresses. I have even seen wedding photos. Many women who struggle with the balance between compliance and authenticity should remember this basic rule. “Skin is not in.”
Claire Soper Image consultant says: “If what you’re wearing would look cool in a nightclub then put it back in the wardrobe.”
Remember for any inappropriate contact and it does happen) there are block and report options. Career Coach Dorothy Dalton says she uses them without hesitation.
3. Buy Your Domain Name
There is an increasing trend of parents buying their newborns domain names. This gives them the opportunity to protect them in the future from any reputation damage. You should also do this for yourself. This secures digital space to create positive content against any less desirable attention. You can also reserve other social media handles – even if you have no intention of using them. A relatively small investment, can secure you peace of mind.
3. Generate good content
Sending out good content via LinkedIn updates, or posts via LinkedIn Pulse or sharing on Google + all contribute to establishing a strong reputation. These should be professional in content, although as LinkedIn morphs into Facebook, care should be paid to the exact nature of the updates. Ask what do you want to be known for? Remember to keep an eye on all photos, even those you are tagged in by friends. The current trend of posting selfies in different social situations can back fire.
4. Monitor your name
It’s easy to set up alerts against your name on Google. Type in your name inside quotes on google.com/alerts. You will receive an alert whenever your name is mentioned.
Although there are valid reasons to be cautious and prudent, failing to engage in a professional way for fear of what could happen is putting women at a professional disadvantage.