Exploring Social Media: Establishing Your Online Credentials
Yesterday, I wrote about how to win at the social media game and how it begins by establishing your online credentials. Basically, it’s how to create a virtual business card and resume that establish your web presence and history. From this information, people can get a glimmer of who you are, what you do, how you do it, and how they can use you to get the job done.
What Are Your Online Credentials?
I talked about the basics you probably already have in place, the social media tools of email, blog, and so on. Don’t have a blog? Get one.
In today’s world, you have to have a blog or social site like Facebook or MySpace. It must include a biography (bio or profile) about who you are, what you do, and how you can help others. Some history, like resume credentials, is appreciated as it sets your qualifications as an expert in your field.
There are a variety of other tidbits of personal information you may want to provide that may or may not be of help to others looking for you as an expert or to establish a personal or professional relationship with.
Many bios and profiles include age information. Generally, I recommend you do not publish this information unless you wish to attract a specific age group or be recognized for your age.
For those proud of their 30 years of experience, then their age says a lot about that experience – if they have been doing the same job for all of those years. If they have two years experience and sixty years of living and working a totally different job, then some questions may arise, arousing curiosity.
For someone proud of what they have accomplished by the time they are 16 years old, then they might also want to promote their age.
For the rest of us, if it isn’t important or relevant, don’t include it.
Does it matter if you are male or female or other? If it does, then share that information with the world.
If it doesn’t, then why bother.
One of the problems this part of a profile form presents is when you are your business and your social profile is your business, not you personally. If you putting together a profile page on your blog, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc., what should you list for the sex?
If the social service offers “other” as an option, then choose that. If not, and they give you the option to hide the sexual identity on the public profile, then choose one and hide it.
If not, in some cultures, it is just part of the language and culture to select “male” as the identity of a business. It’s not male or female, just a masculine noun.
If you want to represent the company as you, then choose your sexual identity.
As more and more businesses join social networks, expect to see “other” to show up on the sexual identity options.
For many people, identifying their location is very important to them and their business.
Because people want to do business with people they know and trust, they also want to do business with people who live and work near them. If your business requires or could have physical meetings, then it helps to work with people near you.
If someone is searching for a real estate agent, doctor, lawyer, plumber, electrician, trainer, or other personal trade, then their search will be for someone who lives in their area. You could be that someone. By entering your geographic location, you are handing out an invitation to those who live and work near you.
If your geographic location isn’t important to your work nor reputation, then what should you type into the form? I travel extensively and live on the road, so my answer has been “the world” when asked to fill in my location. It isn’t very helpful, but I didn’t have a better answer.
Recently, we just set up a permanent base outside of Portland, Oregon, so I’m changing all my social media tool services to that area, though I’m still traveling extensively. I want to do more business with those who live in my new “home” so I’m hanging out my shingle in my neck of the woods.
Where do you want to hang your shingle?
The professional experience you share in your bio and profile is the supporting evidence to who you are and what you know.
We live in a culture where you are your job. At the least, you are your training and experience.
And we tend to believe those who have the training and work experience to back what they say and do rather than just someone shooting off their mouth as some know-it-all, don’t we?
I believe that you are a measure of all your life experiences, but if you want your social media efforts to result in income and business referrals, your professional experience better match your qualifications for the job.
What do you include? Like a professional resume, sometimes what you don’t include matters as much as what you include.
A friend of mine, like me, has had a wide and varied career. We call it our “checkered past” but it works for us well in our virtual businesses today. Between the two of us, I think we’ve occupied just about every stereotypical job you can think of from cook to exercise coach to public speaker to ditch digger. Do these job skills make us the experts we claim we are?
When filling out my resume for a client or job, should I include my time in college spent as a bartender and cook in a pizza parlor? Time spent managing clothing stores? Apprenticing as a professional model and fashion photographer? Working as a receptionist? Secretary? Accountant? Teacher? EMT? Tour director and guide? Printer? Advertising and marketing consultant? Graphic artist? Comedian? Producer? Radio and voice personality? Actress? Singer? Web developer and designer? Technical writer? Author? How about the years I’ve spent working as a water aerobics instructor?
Through it all, I’ve always been a writer, photographer, public speaker, consultant, and trainer, teaching what I know to others. The rest were odds and ends jobs that got me through various economic down times and changes in my personal and professional life. Second jobs and in-between jobs.
If my resume featured all of those, and more, it’d be extremely long, a bear to read. Interesting, but overwhelming. And confusing.
What matters is what skills I’ve learned from all of the work and experiences I’ve had over the years and my travels.
As a water aerobics instructor, my medical training as an EMT and nurse’s aid came in handy, working with various medical conditions and physical disabilities. My sales and teach experiences gave me the social skills to not only help train people of all ability levels to get the right exercise for their ability, while uniting the entire class as a single group. My advertising and marketing degree and experienced made me realize that if I wanted them to keep attending the class and program, they had to enjoy the whole process as much as they liked me as a teacher, so I put together social events such as lunches, picnics, walks, dinners, and speakers to give them social time in their clothing, not just in their bathing suits.
The students enjoyed the whole process so much, they brought friends and family, until my water aerobics classes were the most popular of all the classes in the facility.
As a result, my classes increased, the facilities benefited from increased enthusiasm, attendance, and membership.
And I brought all that energy and the lessons I learned into my advertising and marketing business, as well as my writing, training, and public speaking programs. Years later, I still rely upon all these skills in every project I work on.
It isn’t necessarily the traditional resume structure that people can depend upon for understanding my abilities. It’s the skill set I bring to the table based upon my professional experiences and expertise. Maybe your skill set is more important than your job descriptions.
The information you choose to share with the world must support your end goals and desires. It must paint a picture of what you can do, what you know, and what you bring to the table as an expert. Share that information via your social media bio or profile.
While what you do in your professional life is important, especially if you expect revenue from your social media efforts, what you do in your personal time is often a better reflection of who you are as a person as much as who you are as a worker.
When you leave work, what do you do? Do you race home and lump in front of the television? Or do you do something else? What do you do?
Are you a hiker, biker, walker, jogger, skier, or adventurer? Do you read or write stories or poetry? Do you knit, crochet, scrapbook, paint, woodwork, or create things with your hands? Do you volunteer your time and skills for others? What do you do when you clock out of your pay check?
These things speak loudly to others as the type of person you are. Remember, they want to work with people they know, but more importantly, they want to be around people of like minds which means like interests.
You, too, want to work with those of like minds and interests, so letting the world know who you are outside of your job helps define the type of people you want to be around.
Proof and Evidence of Commitment and Perseverance
A blog, be it full blog or microblog, is a commitment. It requires participation. It requires regular feeding.
How long have you been blogging? That’s an important question. As much as people look for your professional and personal experience, they also like to frequent stores that say, “Since 1954.” Aren’t you a little nervous about shopping in a store that says, “In business since 2008.” A marketing expert once told me that no business should add a “Since” clause until they’ve had ten years under their belts. He makes a good point.
If you are proving your worth and value, the historical perspective helps. Over time, a blog is proof of your commitment to a project, your follow-through, your perseverance and conviction. Blogging for one or more years tells the world a lot.
- You have more than three points to make.
- You have long term enthusiasm for your subject matter.
- You like to look at your subject matter from a variety of perspectives.
- You know how to write.
- You know how to respond to feedback.
- You understanding how an audience and community works.
- You understand how to start a conversation.
- You understand how blogging and all this “social stuff” works.
- You can handle negative feedback, spam and trolls.
- You understand copyright and intellectual property issues.
- You are keeping your fingers on the pulse of your industry.
While some of these points may or may not be true, if you’ve been blogging for at least two years, they are really good assumptions about your abilities.
If I were hiring someone, I’d want these abilities, wouldn’t you? And if you are looking to build a relationship with someone, these are really good qualities, don’t you think?
Exploring Social Media Series
- Define Social Media
- Exploring Social Media Series
- Exploring Social Media: Social Media Tools
- Exploring Social Media: It Starts With One
- Exploring Social Media: Start With the Basics
- Exploring Social Media: One Size Does Not Fit All
- Exploring Social Media: The Motrin Moment Impact of Social Media
- Exploring Social Media: Do You Know How to Use the Social Web?
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
I’m always surprised when I happen upon social media profiles for professionals and find that they leave out crucial information – like their website URL. You can make some great business connections through these sites and even gain some valuable, long-term customers, so these are great reminders!
This is a really great post! I work as a recruiter in Boston for Holliser (www.hollisterstaff.com/?=451) and have been recently encouraging all of my clients to get themselves online. Your tips are very helpful, I can’t wait to start sharing them with my clients! Thanks again!
Great information here. Proof and evidence, through the various means you suggested are all important in building online credibility… the proof is in the pudding, as they say :-)