When you’re curating a professional online presence, it’s important to remember that the internet remembers everything you post – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Local and national organizations can help guide you in creating a snapshot that allows your background, skills and drive to shine above the rest of the crowd.
David Tollette, the executive director of Tulsa’s Young Professionals, says that creating a strong online presence “starts with deciding which platforms you choose to have a public presence on. Decide what is right for you and set your privacy settings accordingly. It’s okay to have both.”
He recommends having at least one online presence accessible to employers and the community at large. This could take the form of a personal website, a business website, LinkedIn or a social media platform.
“Your public presence should give others a sense of who you are, what you are passionate about, your education, experience and volunteer roles,” says Tollette. “Assume that employers will look at your online presence. I suggest researching yourself on your favorite search engines periodically. Look through the websites, photos and videos that are associated with your name.”
Jackie Gonzalez, TYPro’s 2023 chairperson, agrees and encourages everyone to think before posting.
“Someone once told me to think of it as a virtual office party – it’s a great place to show off skills, connect with friends and have some fun,” she says. “But tread lightly when it comes to gossip or other workplace shenanigans. Definitely try to be consistent with your personal brand, and don’t post anything you’d be embarrassed about someone reading out loud or forwarding to your manager.”
Gonzalez suggests always using visuals as part of your storytelling and to have a headshot that reflects your own style.
“And make it easy for people to know how to get ahold of you,” she says.
OKC Young Professionals offers similar advice. Group member Michelle Crone, an account manager at Boiling Point Media, says that “the key to succeeding with [creating a strong, professional online presence] is making sure your personal life does not reflect poorly on your professional life. Life is all about balance – but keep in mind, everything you put online could be used against you.”
Crone suggests being genuine and authentic online, showing your personality and using a professional profile picture. As for things to steer away from, she recommends avoiding controversial topics unless that is part of your personal brand and you are willing to “take some heat” for it.
“Don’t bash anyone or anything,” advises Crone. “Employers will see that as you being negative.”
So what are the best sites for young professionals to be on?
“The top professional site is still LinkedIn,” says Crone. “So utilize that to its full potential. Optimize your profile, have peers write reviews about you, have a cool cover image, share articles, post industry topics. Show that you are valuable!”
While Crone believes Facebook and Instagram are less important to employers, it is her contention that these same hiring managers will look at a LinkedIn page about 90% of the time.
“Be yourself – but if you consider your online presence not up to par with your professional goals, change it,” says Crone. “Delete some photos and posts. Allow your social media channels to reflect who you want to be, not who you’ve been in the past.”
Keep Yourself Safe
Getting online means potential security risks. Keep yourself and your information safe with the following tips:
• Know the effectiveness of the installed security tools you have on your computer and devices;
• Install and update antivirus software;
• Obtain a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and make the most of using it;
• Use a different password for all of your various logins;
• Avoid posting too much personal information online, like home addresses, financial statements or vacation plans/locations;
• Take advantage of multi-factor authentication.