Since the dawn of online profiles and social media, you’ve probably heard at least a time or two that those photos of you passed out drunk or partying on the beach are not doing anything to boost your online image. But whether you’re seeking a job, do a lot of work online, or you gain clients through cyberspace, there’s a lot more to the equation than just avoiding the party pictures.
When your reputation is staked on the image you present to the world via the world wide web, here are some other mistakes to avoid.
1. Grainy, Unflattering, Unprofessional Profile Photo
I recently visited the website of a prominent magazine for entrepreneurs and was appalled at the image the writer used alongside her article. She had her tongue sticking out! This, from a magazine with a huge following and a giant online presence. How difficult is it to have a photographer friend take a few head-and-shoulders shots of you dressed decently with a neutral background and flattering light? Unless you live under a rock, chances are you have at least one starving artist-photographer friend just dying for work. If you don’t, put out an ad on your local Craigslist and you’ll find dozens of photographers willing to take your profile pictures for a relatively low cost. That hour you spent coiffing your hair and posing for professional pictures will pay big dividends when your online clients start taking you a lot more seriously.
2. You Don’t have a Platform to Present Yourself Professionally
If your personal Facebook page is the only way your prospective clients can get more information about you, you’re doing them a disservice. In today’s uber-connected society, clients, prospective employers, and heck, even romantic prospects want to be able to vet you before they contact you for that job -- or that second date. Do yourself a favor and create a Twitter feed, a professional blog-slash-portfolio or a LinkedIn profile -- that you actually update -- so people can check you out. And leave the photo of you sticking out your tongue off of all of them.
3. You’re not Tooting Your Own Horn
Once you’ve established yourself professionally somewhere in cyberspace, don’t be afraid to tell people about the good things you’ve done recently. Post a photo of an award you won, or a link to the cool article in which you were just mentioned. In the world of selfies and constant navel-gazing, you shouldn’t feel bad about telling people about your successes from time to time. There is such a thing as over-sharing, but a weekly or bi-weekly update about your professional life does not delve into the over-sharing realm.
A solid professional reputation is built on all the little things adding up to one big picture, so don’t make the mistake of presenting the wrong picture -- both literally and figuratively -- with your online presence. With just some minimal effort, you can present a far more professional image to the world.
Have you suffered from having an unprofessional online presence? Your thoughts and comments below please...