As a professional, your reputation will not always precede you, but it will quickly become apparent through your posts and content.
A “professional” blogger recently posted a Tweet which was linked to an article which provided guidelines on how to be a Professional Blogger. The problem is, the blog article was filled with grammatical errors that would make even a novice writer cringe.
I witnessed a newsfeed argument between two marketing “professionals” who were competitors. When the epithets began to fly I removed both of them from my network.
If you call yourself a professional, you must live up to that standard. This isn’t just about writing or marketing, but applies to any occupation. It is especially true when you are in the public eye of the social media race.
Maintaining a clear picture of who you are, in the eyes of others, is extremely important in building and maintaining a positive reputation. Most of this is accomplished through your social media profile and the subsequent content in your posts and updates. A profile that is unflattering, filled with grammatical errors, inaccurate, or even shamelessly flamboyant and self-promoting, can result in a negative reputation that will follow you around like a bad odor.
Here are some tips to follow that will help you maintain a healthy and positive online status.
1) Post a professional profile photo. No selfies. No cartoon caricatures or celebrity photos. No optical illusions that cause seizures. And please … no duckface or tequila tongue. Profile photos should be clear, focused and appropriate. Going pictureless is also a no-no. Users will pass judgment within a few seconds after viewing a profile photo – this may also include judgment on why you have no photo at all.
2) Practice what you preach. If you are a professional anything, you must prove your abilities. A writer should know how to write. An accountant should know how to add. A website designer should have an attractive website that actually works. Otherwise, don’t call yourself a professional.
3) Don’t restrict your image to Social Media. Before linking to your website or blog, make sure that they are in order. You may have put a lot of time and effort into your social media profile, but if your other profiles are not equally polished it will reflect you in a negative way.
4) Keep your content focused on your profession. If you want to post personal content, maintain a separate account for that. That includes politics and religion. You may have strong views, but they have nothing to do with your profession – unless, of course, you are a minister or a politician.
5) Restrict your number of posts. Bombarding your followers with updates will eventually result in your speedy demise. No one wants to see only you in their newsfeed. If you are posting every 10 seconds, it quickly becomes clear that you have nothing better to do.
6) Keep it clean. Do not use offensive language. Don’t post links to anything inappropriate. This may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people have down and dirty content in their “professional” profiles.
7) Pay attention to negative feedback. If you receive negative feedback, there is generally a reason for it. The occasional negative comment can be due to a difference of opinion. But if many people are saying the same thing, you need to listen and take action to correct the problem. Don’t get defensive and don’t take it personally. Mistakes and errors are an opportunity to learn, improve and grow.
8) Pay attention to positive feedback. If someone follows you, shares your updates, or provides any other kind of positive reinforcement, acknowledge it. Cultivate good relationships with users who “like” you. If you ignore them, they will eventually ignore you, too.
9) Keep your opinion to yourself. Especially in an open forum. Giving advice is fine if it is solicited or positive. Providing constructive criticism can be tricky if it is unsolicited. If you absolutely must provide advice in order to correct an abhorrent wrong, do it via private message. Never bash, bully or argue on a public platform.
And finally …
10) Beware of link overkill. Yes, you want to be connected. And you want your followers and potential clients to be easily connected to you. However, providing links to ten different social media accounts only confuses people. The majority of social media users have an account with at least one of the big three: Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you can maintain two of them, that is enough. Too many social media accounts can just make you look like a geek. A real professional doesn’t have time to maintain more than two or three accounts. If you give people too many choices, they won’t bother trying to make a decision, they will just move on.
In the beginning it may seem like a lot of effort to create a polished and professional image, but once your online identity is established, maintaining it is the easy part. If you don’t begin with professionalism, or if you allow your reputation to falter, you will find yourself fighting an uphill battle to overcome it. Those kinds of battles are long, difficult and sometimes unsuccessful.
If you need help creating your Professional Profile or content, contact me today for more information.