While an MIT study reveals that college-educated entrepreneurs with an extensive alumni network are more successful than their counterparts, science does not need to convince most professionals that networking is a crucial asset. Although the data does speak for itself: networking fills 85% of jobs, with 70% of those opportunities being filled before posting an online listing. Luckily, building a network has never been easier, with online tools only becoming more advanced and available. Technology not only expedites the connecting process and expands the range of opportunity with social networks, it gives professionals more control over their reputation – and with this comes more responsibility. While professionals can leverage social media to network more efficiently, carelessly managing one’s online presence can hinder more than it can help. The control is in your hands and to ensure you have what you need to build your social network creatively and carefully, we have curated our top tips for staying professional online below:
ESTABLISH YOUR AUDIENCE & ADJUST YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS ACCORDINGLY
A professional online presence does not mean you need to have a professional online profile; rather, it entails being cognizant of how any online presence can impact your professional wellbeing. Over 57% of employers have eliminated a job candidate after seeing inappropriate content on their social media, likely due to lax privacy settings. Furthermore, 48% of employers monitor their associates’ social media activity, meaning you are not off the hook once you land the job, either. Therefore, establishing your intended audience and appropriately adjusting your profile’s privacy settings is the first step to a professional online presence. Strict privacy settings are ideal if you only intend to social network with friends and family and affords you full control over who can see your content. Alternatively, opening your profile to public viewership can be advantageous. 43% of employers have seen content that led to a job offer, such as posts that attest to a person’s creativity, communication skills, and qualifications. Thus, calculating a risk-reward ratio with your content history and intended audience in mind can either protect you or propel you professionally if done right.
LIMIT YOUR POSTS DURING WORKING HOURS
Online engagement should be limited during work hours because – well – those hours are for work. Considering the recent findings that employees spend more time on social media at work than at home, averaging 1.5 hours a day, there is a real concern for inappropriate technology use in the workplace. Refraining from social media engagement during working hours is a surefire way to assure your professional circle that during those hours, you mean business. Even if you are looking to surf your socials during a break, research proves doing nothing at all can boost your creativity and productivity. So, while managing your online presence is important, it does not need your attention at all times.
INVENT WITH INTENTION & BUILD YOUR BRAND
Once an extemporaneous affair dependent on firm handshakes and face-to-face conversation, building a reputation is different online – and perhaps even more important! 35% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they cannot find online, as recruiters are exponentially utilizing the internet to look for “information that supports qualifications.” Instead of haphazardly engaging with social media, building your online presence with intention can prove fruitful in portraying noteworthy qualities that differentiate you from the competition. For example, if sustainability and community service are essential to your life, using social media to promote your relationship with these values can help colleagues and employers better conceptualize your professional identity. The best part is you have complete control over your online reputation – including what you post, when you post, and how you post. Inventing content with your brand in mind is critical to setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack, if done intentionally and strategically.
CHECK (& DOUBLE CHECK) YOUR GRAMMAR
The delivery of your content is just as important as the content itself, especially when it comes down to the grammar. Poor grammar negatively impacts your credibility – and potentially your income. According to a 2013 survey, professionals with fewer grammar mistakes achieved higher positions with more promotions than their colleagues. With free online editors and grammar tools available to most internet users, proper grammar is an expectation for most professionals, as it attests to a person’s attention to detail and communication skills. Taking a few seconds to check your content’s grammar before publishing is a small task that will go a long way.
Social media is a great outlet to authentically express yourself and your business in a productive and creative way, but the first step is professionalism. Whether you are looking to better secure your private posts or widen your professional network through a personal brand, these tips will take your online presence – and maybe even your paycheck – to the next level!