Standing out in a positive way is a good thing to do. It can bring more clients to your business, help you get a meeting with that one person others would kill to meet with, it can bring you more notoriety, raise your respectability, and so much more. But whether it be in the classroom, a job interview, social media or most anything else, standing out in a positive way isn’t always that easy. Where do you even begin?
In our modern day and age, the answer is actually rather simple when it comes to standing out professionally. If you’re trying to stand out, either as an individual or as a business, the first step is to develop a strong online presence.
When you walk into a room, your presence is not just your being there, but how you are there. It’s how you present yourself. If you’re wearing a suit as opposed to a polo, that says something. Likewise, people will take note as to whether your more reserved or outgoing as that says something about you and who you are as well.
In the same way, an online presence is how you present yourself online. Your presence is the totality of how you present yourself on all social media sites, your personal website should you have one, any other website that’s featured you and anywhere else on the internet. Like it or not, then, everyone who has anything online has an online presence. The difference between people who simply have an online presence and those who have a strong online presence, however, is the cohesiveness of their presence.
Creating an online presence is centered around cohesiveness. If you’re a completely different person on Facebook than you are on your personal website, people will take notice. Just like your significant other will notice if you’re a completely different person around them and their family than you are around your family and friends. This lack of consistency, of cohesiveness across platforms, will only hurt your brand. This is why the first step in creating an online presence is to develop a theme.
What do you want to be about? What style — clothing, picture, and presentation-wise — do you want to utilize. What are you going to create content about? Your theme is something that you must come up with. It may seem daunting at first, but don’t let that dissuade you. After all, in order to even come up with the theme, you must get to know yourself better, a positive if there ever was one.
Once you have a theme, make sure you have places to display yourself. If you don’t have your social media accounts set up, do so and try to get the same username/handle on each platform. If you don’t have a website, make one. Then it’s time to create and post content.
Building your online presence isn’t quite as simple as creating it was just described. Once you’ve created an online presence, creating and posting content as you feel like it isn’t going to cut it. Here are some tips to help build your online presence and help you stand out.
You don’t have to do anything extraordinary, but create and post content on a consistent basis — be it once a day or once every two weeks — that is published online. This can be Facebook posts, Instagram videos, a blog post, a LinkedIn article, an interview you gave or anything else. But consistency in your posting is the key. If your followers can count on your posting a certain type of content on a regular schedule, however long that may or may not be between postings, they’ll be more likely to tune in regularly and suggest their friends start doing the same.
As you do create and post content, make sure that you stay aligned with your theme and that you post content that is native to each medium you use. The same piece of content simply won’t garner the same engagement on every platform. For example, an article won’t work on Instagram like it will on LinkedIn, but a photo will work infinitely better on Instagram than it will on Twitter. Take the time to learn what kind of posts are native to each platform you are on and then post that kind of content on that platform.
Whether it’s posting a photo of you and a colleague on Instagram and then tagging them in it or featuring a guest on your blog, be sure to include others in your content at least a portion of the time. Doing so is a positive-sum game. It exposes them to your followers and you to theirs, helping you both further develop your online presence. Everybody wins!
The 80/20 rule is a rule for effective social media marketing stating that 80% of the content you post should inform, entertain and educate your audience, essentially do anything but market your brand, business or product, which you then promote with the other 20%. This is not a rule that you have to live by and there are certainly a multitude of brands, personal and otherwise, that have thrown it to the wayside and still experienced substantial success. Everybody’s brand is different, and thus the content they post and the ratios with which they post varying content is different. You simply need to figure out what the best posting ratio is for you. But as you figure this out, the 80/20 rule is a good one to keep in mind.
It shouldn’t be all business all the time. Every now and then, share something silly, a fun side of you that most people aren’t typically privy to. Break the mold here and there, even if it clashes with your theme. Show your followers that you’re human. It’ll go a long way.
People make tons of simple mistakes on social media and their personal websites that can hinder the growth of their online presence. Whether it be having a blurry profile picture, more typos than an eighth grade history paper or oversharing like a child with a new phone over-texts, these mistakes simply aren’t professional. Especially since they’re so easy to fix. Every now and then, simply ensure that you’re not making any of these mistakes. They aren’t things you need to be overly conscious about, but you should be wary of them.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. This is arguably the most significant process by which both people and businesses increase the quality and quantity of internet traffic to their online presence. The specifics of how it works are pretty in-depth, but essentially, the more you specific keywords and phrases are attached to your name — be it in your content, your job title on your employers site, etc — the more and higher ranked you will appear on search engines, like Google, when people include those keywords and phrases in their searches. This is a free way to garner tremendous organic traffic to your online presence and only help you build it. If you want to learn more about how to utilize SEO, Moz and Search Engine Land have excellent beginner’s guides.
Standing out in a positive way isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it. But by utilizing the information in this article, you’ll be well on your way to developing a strong online presence that helps you stand out in any professional environment.
J.P. Pressley is a writer, entrepreneur, filmmaker, and an asthmatic former two-sport college athlete (basketball and track). Is he a jockey-nerd or a nerdy-jock? The world may never know. You can learn more about him at his personal website.