5 Ways to Improve Your Online Profile

Whether we are applying to college, looking for a job, or just reaching out to an old friend, it’s more important than ever to establish an engaging online profile. While in the past we may have been able to rely on face-to-face charm and personality to make a good impression, we no longer have that luxury. The Internet is now the official starting point for most new relationships, and if we don’t clear that hurdle then we rarely get a second chance.

But what do admissions officers and recruiters look for in an online profile? Of course, academic achievements and business experience are important, but a good online profile should be much more than a simple résumé. Your online profile needs to tell a story about who you are; your likes (but not necessarily your dislikes); and what kind of person you would be to work with. Here are 5 tips for getting your online profile in shape:

1. Make yourself findable

The most amazing online profile in the world is completely wasted if no-one can find it. Search and social media now go hand in hand, so it’s important to have a presence on all the major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If you’re a good writer, you should also consider establishing a personal blog (but only if you are going to keep it current). If you have a common name, consider adding an initial or middle name to make it easier to discover. Regularly Google yourself to make sure you’re findable.

2. Keep your profile up-to-date

Got a new job or qualification? Update your profile. Saw a great movie or read an inspiring book? Write a post. Like any web site that seeks to bring people back again and again, your online profile must continually have new content. One of the best ways to update your profile is to get new recommendations. On sites like LinkedIn, set yourself a goal of getting one new recommendation a month. If you’re on Twitter, make sure you tweet at least once a day. You have to be active to be interesting.

3. Be consistent

As tempting as it might be to create a series of web-based alter egos, it is important to be consistent across all your online profiles. Use a photo or a series of photos that people will recognize. Avoid online behavior that is inflammatory or is likely to alienate certain sections of the population. Make sure that your online profile is a reasonably accurate representation of your real-life persona. Exaggerated or inaccurate résumés are easy to check and hard to forgive.

4. List your achievements

Don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments. In the same way that a résumé  should be more than just a list of job titles, an online profile should be results-oriented, focusing on achievements and success stories. Remember, it’s OK to brag a little as long as you keep it honest. Make sure your profile includes all relevant awards and recognitions.

5. Grow your network

Although no-one should be too impressed by a Facebook account with thousands of random ‘friends’, it’s hard not to feel that someone with less than 50 friends isn’t really trying. If you are serious about maintaining a meaningful online profile, then it’s important to grow your network. Use the built-in tools on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to find friends and followers; join the conversation by commenting, ‘liking’ and retweeting; be an active participant in groups and circles. Although it’s a truism for most things in life, with social media you get out what you put in.

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