Are you building a personal brand online?
University is a time when you are most vulnerable online and on social media in particular. Whilst you should absolutely have fun, joke around and join the digital banter, you should do so responsibly. You must remember that the internet is a public (and global!) space, that can and is monitored by your University, your landlord and your potential future employers.
Hence, you should always check what your personal brand or personality is online by googling yourself. Try various different terms relating to your name and see what comes up. If there is anything you’d rather your boss not to see, take care of it. You can also set a Google Alert for your name and your email address, which makes a great way to monitor any unwanted mentions of your name on the web.
Similarly, you should check what your social media profiles say about you and what members of the general public (anyone on the internet who is not your friend or follower on social media) can actually see. Facebook has a tool for this, where you can see what your profile looks like to an outsider. In addition, review your profile settings and consider which circles you’d like your posts, mentions, tagged pictures and information to be reaching. If you feel that photos that you share on Instagram are rather private and you like to share a photo from a night out here and there, perhaps it is time to consider making your profile private. For all social media accounts, you can also choose whether they appear in search engine results or not (like in Google when your name is typed in). Finally, this might be a good time to check your profile photos - yes, plural, not only your current one but also the ones from years back. Profile photos are usually one of the most visible pieces of information on social media so double-check their visibility settings if you want to be cautious.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is a great social media tool for online personal branding. If you haven’t got a LinkedIn profile already, this is essentially your CV online, which is frequently used for professional recruitment. Use this powerful platform to set you own image online the way you want to present yourself to your future employers and everyone else who doesn’t know you in person.
LinkedIn can also serve well to develop a true personal brand as you can get involved in conversations around topics that you care about, join groups and discussions, write and publish articles or reviews and reach out to other professionals, that might help you with any of your goals. Be sure to be active there and keep your profile updated and correct. Remember your profile photo should look presentable and you can show off your personality in a reasonable manner.
If you’re still not convinced all of this is so important, think about just how global the world is nowadays (and connectivity is improving every single day). Having the right presence online might be even more important than how you present yourself in real life sooner than you think.