What's the first thing you do when you meet someone new? You search for them online. You may look at their LinkedIn profile, their company website, blog and maybe even their Facebook profile and Twitter account.
A quick online search of someone can tell you a lot of information and savvy business professionals and entrepreneurs know how to exploit this and use it to their advantage.
Your online profile, that is all the platforms that represent you and perhaps your business, has the power to influence potential new clients, business stakeholders as well as future employers.
So if you want to be seen in a certain light or position yourself as an industry expert, building a strong online profile is the best way to achieve this.
When building your online profile you should consider the following:
The key to creating an online profile that has the power to influence people is to develop and communicate a consistent personal brand across all your platforms. This unified brand is what will help you stand out.
Take some time to consider what it is you want to be known and respected for. Also think about the things that are unique and memorable about you. We are all unique and have our points of difference. Remember, people connect and buy emotionally, so there needs to be an emotional element.
The right online platforms
Deciding what type of platforms you will use to profile yourself is critical and will depend largely on your target audience, how they like to receive information and where they spend time online. With so many options to choose from, it's also a good idea to initially focus on one or two platforms before expanding to others.
For many business professionals, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to profile your business self as well as connect and network with others. However, don't just use LinkedIn as an online resume. Consider what your objectives are; are you trying to attract a certain type of new client? Or are you angling for a new career? This will impact how you use LinkedIn to really maximise its power.
Connect with online influencers
So you've done the hard of work of figuring out how you want to convey yourself and setting up your online channels, you may have even added your friends, family and colleagues as connections, but what next?
Think of social media channels like you would a networking function. You wouldn't stand in the corner alone at a business event and expect people to come to you. The best networkers are the ones who initiate conversations, share information and make lasting connections. The same theory applies online.
Seek out people in your industry with developed online profiles and large followings and connect with them. Share their content, comment on their posts and maybe even send them a message from time to time. The benefits of this are twofold. Not only do you build meaningful relationships with people that are well connected, your visibility also grows. It's win-win.
By far the most important element of building an online profile is sharing. 100 per cent direct selling rarely works on social media. But what does work and can have a lasting and positive impact is building relationships. This involves sharing valuable information that the people you want to influence will benefit from. It's a 'them-first' approach that also puts you in a position of being the expert.
For instance, if you want to be seen as an innovative app developer in the B2B space, share content on the latest trends in this area. This might involve writing a blog about your approach, insights and learnings that others might benefit from. Share this blog posts on your social media channels along with other interesting articles from your industry. This is not about putting tickets on yourself, but positioning yourself as a thought leader and expert.
An online profile that is authentic, consistent and highlights your area on expertise can be extremely powerful in establishing yourself as a recognised expert. By being conscious about what and how you share information online, you can build a profile that helps you attract new business opportunities and be seen as a leader in your field.
About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com
Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.au