Best Practices For Maintaining Professional Profiles7 Dec, 2008
I was asked recently at work to provide some information about best practices for creating and maintaining public social networking profiles (namely LinkedIn and Facebook). Here’s what I came up with…
A General Rule To Live By
You may have heard this maxim before, but it’s worth repeating: Don’t publish anything online that you wouldn’t want to appear on the cover of the New York Times. Before you post any content ask yourself, would I want my mother, child, spouse, best friend, boss, client, etc. to be able to see what I’ve posted now or at any point in the future? If the answer is no, it’s probably best not to put it on the Internet.
Guide to a Great LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is an excellent resource for professional networking and information. It also commonly ranks in the top three when performing a search for a person’s name. I tried it with ten of my colleagues’ names and their LinkedIn profiles were always within the top three Google results—frequently the first. With that kind of clout it’s important to remember these tips for making the most of your presence on the site:
Don’t publish anything online that you wouldn’t want to appear on the cover of the New York Times.
- Keep your profile updated. Did you get a new job? A promotion? Additional training or education? Take a few minutes to add this information to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure that your “Professional ‘Headline’” is a brief, well written summary that explains your role and expertise. This is the online version of your professional resume.
- Keep it professional. Make sure that what you’ve written about yourself is factual and employs proper spelling and grammar. This is where many potential clients, colleagues and employers will get their first impression of you and your professionalism. Avoid including references about your crazy weekend, how much you despise a political candidate or your fondness for body piercing (unless you are a body piercing political consultant).
- Include contact information. Make it easy for members of your network to contact you by keeping your phone and email address up to date.
- Link to any corporate websites. In the websites section link to your corporate website and blog(s). If you have one, link to your personal website as well if you are comfortable with current and potential clients, employers and colleagues seeing the content.
- Include a photograph. Put your best foot forward and include a photograph of yourself on the website. Don’t get artsy; use a professional looking headshot where you are smiling and dressed as you would for work. This isn’t where you want to upload your new manga or Simpsonized avatar.
- Participate. Add colleagues, friends, clients and vendors to your professional network. Join groups that interest you. Ask and answer questions posed within your network. Write recommendations for co-workers, past and present. In general, be a good community member by spending a few minutes each week participating. Your visibility in the network grows as you expand your network and participation.
Best Practices For a Professional Facebook Profile
Quite simply, unless you are some kind of social media marketing consultant, I’d advise against using your Facebook account for professional purposes. LinkedIn serves the purpose of professional online networking quite nicely. That being said, there are some things for Facebook users to remember—even if you’ve taken my advice and swear to use it solely for personal reasons:
- Lock the visibility of your profile to restrict public viewing. Facebook allows users the ability to control the amount of content visible in a their profile. I advise that you only allow trusted friends to view your full profile and limit your public profile to the least amount of information allowable (your name, network and profile photo).
- Watch those profile photos. Your Facebook profile photo can be more casual than your LinkedIn headshot, but keep in mind that it is visible to anyone—even people outside of your network or without a Facebook account. Search engines can find you even if you’ve locked down your profile, and your profile photo is visible in search results.
- Remember – your activity on Facebook can be viewed by users who are outside your network. Any comments added to status messages, profile updates, groups, image and video uploads, etc. may be seen by users outside of your network, so think before posting. In addition, other users may upload photos of you and tag you within the photo (associate the photograph with your profile). These photos may be seen by users outside of your network.
- If you are not a social media marketing consultant and you insist on using your Facebook profile to network with clients and colleagues, it is even more important to remember the New York Times rule, and use your Facebook presence similarly to your LinkedIn profile. Keep it professional, and realize that what you post can come back to haunt you.
What did I forget? Please feel free to use the comments to add your thoughts on what goes into a professional LinkedIn and/or Facebook profile.
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