How often do you try to update your online identity? I update my status, add pictures, chat with friends and make professional connections. It wasn't until I started looking over my profiles on various sites that I realized how outdated much of the information was. Whether you want to seem more professional or you're ready to move on from the past, you should update your online identity regularly.
1. Out with the Old
I'll admit it. I still have a MySpace account. The first step to update your online identity is to get rid of any accounts you no longer use. People can still find you on these sites. You only want people to find you on sites you keep updated. Besides, why keep online accounts if you never use them?
2. You've Grown up
It seems like a great idea to post pictures of the latest party you went to or fill social networks with vulgar posts. After all, it's about having fun, right? Odds are, you've grown up and all those past posts and pictures could be holding you back. It's fine to move on from the past and clean up your accounts to reflect a more mature you.
3. Help the Right People Find You
I honestly didn't realize how important social media was to finding a job until several years ago. I'm still guilty of posting infrequently, but I do try to keep my profiles updated. If you want to make professional connections online, you must keep any online profiles updated with your latest jobs, interests and even location (for local searches). You could be missing out on connections that could change your life simply because your Facebook or LinkedIn profile hasn't been updated in years.
4. Upgrade Your Identity
The popular sites tend to change from year to year and often vary based on age. Take a look at which sites are best for your age group. Do you really want to be associated with teenagers when you're in your 30s or vice versa? Find which sites are best for you and best represent your interests. You'll have better and more relevant online interactions as a result.
5. Control Your Privacy
You don't have to stop having fun on social media and other sites just to maintain a professional image. Instead, clamp down on any available privacy settings to prevent what is and isn't seen by friends, professional connections and strangers. Visit your sites and learn what privacy options are available to keep better control over your online identity.
6. Optimize Profiles for Search
If you're using social media and other sites to market yourself, you need to optimize your profile for search engines. Add in keywords and phrases relevant to your current job and the job you're looking for. Create a list of generic and highly specific phrases and incorporate them naturally in your profiles to draw more people to you.
7. Stay Active
If someone visits a profile online, but doesn't see any recent activity, they'll assume you no longer use the site. If you don't keep your profile updated and stay active on the sites you choose to use, you could be missing out on opportunities for new jobs, friends and professional connections. Make a schedule and try to be active at least once a week. After all, how can you tell if a site is right for you or benefits you at all if you never use it?
8. Change Your Attitude
I sometimes rant on social media and forums about issues that bug me. However, if that's all you do, you're probably pushing people away or attracting the wrong people. Look over the sites you use. How many negative or pessimistic posts are there? Change your attitude and suddenly your online identity will be positive and draw the right people to you.
9. Make It Consistent
While some sites require your real name, others let you use whatever name you want. How many different names do you have out there representing you? I write under two names for different niches, but it's easy to tell it's the same person. Make it easier for people to know it's you by making your name consistent across every site you use. It's more professional and prevents you from having to prove it's you if you reference the site on a resume.
Whether it's casual acquaintances, friends or professional connections, you will be judged based on your online identity. Are you happy with what your profiles, posts, comments and interactions say about you? If not, take the time to update the online version of yourself and you'll be amazed with the difference it makes. What will you update first?