Whether you’re an MBA student, a first year undergraduate or an academic, having a strong online portfolio will help to set you apart from your peers. Not only does it demonstrate to people that you are confident and take pride in yourself and your work, it can also, through personal reflection, help you to understand yourself better & find focus and direction in your life. And of course on top of that, using social media in the right way can help you open doors, expand your knowledge, build real networks and find very real opportunities. For anyone who wants to take advantage of the power of social media, read on!
#1. Know who you are: think product
If you want to set up a strong online portfolio, identity is everything. Know who you are, what you want to be and what you want to achieve. In marketing terms, you need to understand your product, what it is that you are effectively selling, and above all you need to believe in that product. In slightly more humanistic terms, we’re talking self development, personal growth and self worth.
Of course, this is an ever-evolving process. Just because you define yourself now doesn’t mean this is all you will ever be; but it’s important to have a strong foundation upon which to build. Brainstorm. Ask yourself, who am I right now? What makes me who am I at this moment in time? This isn’t about the individual projects that you have been involved in, or the latest publication you are working on – whilst these things all contribute to identity, in this exercise they are superfluous. Strip yourself right back and take a good look at your core self.
#2. Know how you want to be perceived: think branding
The next step is to know how you want to be defined by others, and exactly how you want colleagues, friends, professionals, future employers to see you. Essentially this is about branding yourself.
Here are a pointers to help you along:
- Remember that on LinkedIn your professional headline does not need to be your job title. Personally, I have chosen to identify myself as a Digital Marketer, Creative and Thinker. This works for me and is how I want people to see me right now, at this point in time.
- Quality is everything. Choose a strong professional headshot/a good quality, high res image that shows you in your best light. If using for professional channel such as LinkedIn, don’t use a photo of you sitting in your kitchen, or having a good night out! The same principle goes for all other photos/images: quality, quality, quality.
- Make sure that all associated publicly available content reflects the image that you want people to have of you. We’ve all got that dodgy photo of ourselves in a slightly worse than wear condition, but do you want the world to see it? Probably not. Make sure you have all of your privacy settings set accordingly!
- Consistency is key. If you want people to have a clear image of you & find you easily online, use similar images, key words etc. That way whether people find you on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or your blog, they’ll know who you are at first sight.
#3. Understand the channel and know why you’re there
There is absolutely no point in opening accounts for the sake of it. If you’re going to be on Twitter, find out what it is, how it works, and think strategically about how it could benefit you. Think about which channels might be more beneficial. If you’re a photographer or the owner of a hair salon for example, Instagram would be a must. If you’re an academic, you might prefer Twitter. To help you get started, here are a few key things to note:
- Once you’ve got your nice profile photos and cover pics sorted, take a look at your profile descriptions. Remember what you decided re. your product and branding & choose carefully what you’re going to tweet/post/blog about (I would say no more than three related topics) and use your description to clearly tell the world. Feel free to add personality – people want to know that you’re a real human being, but keep it short and concise.
- Cross link if you have other relevant channels!
- Start building an engaged network: once you’ve decided what you’ll be shouting about, start searching for other people who are interested in the same thing. Where possible, use hashtags to draw them in. Beware of bots and make sure to do a clear out every now and again – check who’s still following you and if they’re not providing you with interesting/relevant content, knock them off the list. Don’t be afraid to engage with others and give opinions.
- Post regularly and keep your account active otherwise you’ll soon find your followers are dropping like flies.
- Be selective. Do you really need your entire CV listed on LinkedIn? If you tweet about 50 different topics will people understand what you’re about? Again, think about those public FB photos. Who are you networking with? Do you need 500+ connections on LinkedIn?
- Know where the line is: having opinions is a good thing, but understand that what you say on social media is public and so it’s important to know the boundaries. If you’re ever concerned about your relationship with your employer, one easy option is to put ‘Views own’ on your profile description – easy peasy.
- Don’t despair if at first you feel like you’re shouting into a giant black hole. Building your network takes time as does getting a feel for each channel and the type of content that works.
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