Everywhere you turn lately, someone is asking you for an online profile. It can be easy to overlook the importance of these little snapshots of who you are, however they are critical to how people find you online.
While you may be limited to a 160 characters on Twitter, Google+ and other sites give you seemingly unlimited space to tout your wares. Here are some things to consider as you build your next Social Media profile.
Why do you want people to find you online? Seriously think about this. Is it to make money? Is it an ego trip? Is it to reconnect with lost loves or old friends?
What do you want people to do once they find you? Do you want them to contact you? Hire you? Buy something? Talk about you? Go to a specific website? How are you conveying this?
How do people want to contact you? Do you want them to email you? Call? Skype? Direct message? Text? Facebook? Guide people to contact you how you would like to be reached, but also consider that they may have a different preferred method of communication. Provide alternatives that work for both of you.
What’s your Full Name? OK, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be a confusing area. Let’s say your name is say, Robert Jones. Do you like to be called Robert, Bob, Rob, Bobby, RJ, BJ, Bert? See where I’m going with this? Give people the name that they can call you to feel like their instantly your friend. If you put your name out there as Robert, and you say, “Oh no, no one ever calls me Robert. My friends all call me Bob,” well, you’ve just told them that they’re not your friend. Ouch!
Do you have a Nickname? Is your real name something like Stephen, but folks only know you as Skip? Include your nickname somewhere in your profile so that people can find you in a search.
What’s your Maiden Name (Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+): This is a matter of preference. Maybe you don’t want to be found by people in your past. In that case, leave it off. As an in-between, Facebook, allows you to be searched on by an alternate name without making that name public.
What is your Title? As the owner of a company I wear many hats, so I’ve chosen to list several titles for myself. Use something catchy, but also throw in some common words that people might search on.
Company Name? OK, not much to explain here. However, if you’re in a big company, you may want to also include a division name.
What other Social Media Sites are you on? Especially if you have the space, and can add links, tell people where else they can connect with you via Social Media. Bonus if you register your own name and link to all of your profiles in one place.
What special Skills do you have? Are you an expert yodeler? Can you do stupid human tricks? Really think about this and be creative with what you share.
Do you hold any Certifications? This could really mean a lot to potential employers or mates. You worked hard for that raised seal. Talk it up!
Educational Highlights. Don’t limit yourself to just where you attended school. What else have you learned that will impress the masses?
Fields of Expertise. Think about those categories you choose when you fill out a government form or online job application. Sprinkle a couple of these words into your profile (in a meaningful way) if they might be terms people would use in a search for you.
Association Memberships: Do you belong to the BBB? NSA? ASTD? Careful with acronym soup…it might help to spell out the names to avoid confusion.
Do you have any Awards? Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Awards tend to beget more awards. Someone might be looking for you to bestow a new award. Let them find you!
What else interests you? You never know how someone will form a connection with you. It might be the type of books you read or movies you like to watch. Giving people multiple touch points opens up greater possibilities.
What are some key search terms? Knowing you, and if you were looking for you, what search terms would you enter to find yourself? Are those terms already covered with the information above?
Do you hold an Patents or have you written any Publications? People love an expert! Show off your stuff so that people can keep reading and find out more.
Next Steps: Call upon a friend that you trust (actually, a complete stranger might be just as effective for this exercise). Describe to them what you do and then ask them to tell you what you just told them. Any differences? Be sure that the message you’re sending at least vaguely resembles the message received.
You obviously can’t put everything you do into every online profile. However, the web is a big place. Revisit all of your online profiles and make sure that together they tell the whole picture as you would like it to be told. Keep going back so it’s fresh and relevant.
What other tips can you give about creating a robust online persona?