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Crafting your online persona to match your goals and vision

How do you curate your online presence so that it is really working for you? What steps should you go through to make sure that what the world reads about you, works in your favour? Your online presence can open so many doors, but it can also slam doors shut, so let's take some time to get this right.

In the previous post in this series, we discussed how important, and powerful your online presence is in determining future opportunities and went through how to perform an online audit. Now its time to tackle the next step: crafting a persona that works for you, and that doesn’t just fend off awkward interview questions about questionable photos but actively helps you and elevates you in our leadership journey.

If you followed the method in the last article you should have a clear idea of what opportunities you want, who will read your profile and why, and what you need to target. If you haven’t done this, go back and do it now! You should also have completed an assessment of your current online presence to understand what is missing or just completely wrong. The next step can seem quite daunting: you know what’s wrong but where to start can seem an impossible question. So lets break it down.

Your online presence, however small, is just as important and influential as your behaviour and presence offline/in-person. The more you make of this presence, the more it can serve you.

Prioritising 

The first stage is to figure out what changes you should make first. You could just start on the first item on your list, and work your way through it. That’s fine if you have a whole weekend or more to set aside. But sometimes it is best to prioritise and then work through the list one at a time. Here are my top tips for figuring out the best order.

  1. Is there anything out there actively damaging you? This is your number one priority. If in doubt, shut down anything you have control over and make profiles private. Then tackle the things you don’t have control over if you can (see the advice at the bottom of the previous post).
  2. Does your employer have any policies that you need to adhere to? Check for any terms in your contract about how you use social media in particular as this is the first thing to tackle. Some employers, particularly in tech also actively encourage and reward staff who actively participate in social media, so find out if this applies to you, and which platform(s) if any are preferred.
  3. Identify the highest priority platforms by going through your notes from your audit and looking at where your ideal reader is likely to find you. For many of us who are looking for the next professional opportunity this will be a career website such as LinkedIn, but not always.
  4. Then move on to the next priority platform.

These steps will identify which platforms to tackle first, but it is worth understanding where you can reuse content and therefore there is an overlap between platforms. So always keep an offline/private copy of the content for all platforms so you can curate all your content and easily copy/paste without logging in. I typically have the information for each platform in a document. This is updated regularly, edited for style and grammar, and then copied to the relevant platform. This also helps to encourage consistency between platforms of your message.

Top tips for updating your content

Once you have your priority order here are my top tips for getting this done.

  1. Before you do any editing check privacy settings. For many social media platforms, in particular LinkedIn, every change you make gets shared with the world by default. And you don’t want every little change, especially if it is corrections to your biography, being shared as if it is brand new information. So check what is being shared and lock things down for this process.
  2. For each platform or webpage create a document and copy/paste the list of sections and include any current content.
  3. Remind yourself of what you want your content to reflect in terms of experience, personality, style, and make sure you know what things you definitely don’t want to share. Then go through your current content deleting anything that doesn’t fit. Highlight anything that you want to keep but needs changing in some way. Don’t be tempted to write and edit at this stage, just delete and/or highlight.
  4. Start brainstorming what you want to include in your online presence. Don’t worry about order or style just perform a brain dump.
  5. Curate your braindump.
    1. What common themes do you have?
    2. What can be grouped together? 
    3. Do some things belong on one platform but not on others?
    4. Organise these items into organised bulleted lists of grouped items.
  6. Go back to your documents that contain the structure of your online platforms and start copying your groups of bulleted items into your structure. DON’T BE TEMPTED TO EDIT – it will slow you down!
  7. Leave everything for at least 24 hours at this point. Breathe and know you are most of the way there!
  8. Go back and pick ONE PLATFORM only. Then edit the platforms document until you are happy with the content and style.
  9. You are ready to post! Go ahead and update the live platform content with the edited information in your private document. Then repeat until all your platforms are complete. 

You may think there are a lot of steps to the above, and there are. But breaking it down like this will actually make sure you the result serves you well and you will find the process is actually faster than just diving in and editing live. 

There are two missing pieces still to the online presence puzzle: your regular content and your brand. We’ll be coming to these in the next few weeks, so come back for more!

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