If you are running a consulting business, your digital personality footprint is very critical. You win customers and audition for jobs even when there is none before you. It is called thought-leadership. It means you must work to be known for something. It demands domain messaging over rambling across topics. Are you known for tech/business thought-leadership or someone that writes on business, technology, gender women rights, sports, politics, medical activism, etc? Indeed, any topic online makes it to your feed.
People who make decisions on where to spend money want consistency and certainty. They want to come to your feed expecting to see a sustained messaging. When I hired our first team member in our Design Center in Nigeria, it was through Facebook when I was there. Somehow I saw his posts and we connected. For over 4 weeks, he (largely) only posted things on embedded systems/electronics. Nothing else bothered him; he was simply into electronics. He is now our Electronics Business Engineering Manager. He would do his job even if no one pays him – he really likes electronics.
That connects to those looking for work. You cannot be a great Business Strategist if a search in your name cannot turn up an article on that. That webinality (your digital personality) is what many would look to hire you. While your CV remains important to connect in some cases and perhaps apply for jobs, when it comes to some experienced jobs, many would expect to see what you have done in the past. They typically check online.
The following are some suggestions on how to build a professional online persona:
Presence: Open at least one social media or blog account.
Specialize: Define an area of interest and build around it. A five-minute online search should reveal what you represent. You need to differentiate yourself and showcase your core skills and unique capabilities to potential hiring managers.
Accuracy: Always remember that once that post goes online, you may not control who sees it. Make it accurate – always, otherwise, you will destroy your persona.
Comprehensive: While blog should be short, once in a while, develop comprehensive articles in your field and post them online. It could mean expanding a class project you worked on, adding more contents, and fully proving your expertise. Half-baked contents will not take you too far.
Judgment: What you post or share online defines who you are. Your profile defines your values, interests and reliability. For employers, they want reliable team leaders and you must not offer less in your web personality.
Vertical Integration: Seek to connect with people ahead of you professionally while building a horizontally network.
Generosity: Share and exchange good ideas. Invite people to your network and be generous to promote good ideas from others. Write professional reviews on books, journals and articles. In no distant time, people will reward you.
Policy Matters: If you are working, ensure you adhere to policies on using the company’s name online. There is a threat that you could be a source of data leakage that can hurt a place you work. Your profile must not be another portrait of your employer – you must be wise to separate both, where necessary.
Continuity: Professional online branding is a continuous work-in-progress that requires constant tune-ups of networks, contents and profiles. It must be constantly nurtured.
For consultants, it is largely a requirement that the entity or person has demonstrated thought-leadership in a specific area one is seeking advisory opportunities. Big name consulting firms do just that if you check their websites.
For you – the small player – your blog integrated in your company website could be it. I have suggested that beginners should have a web space (we have support in case you need a free web hosting). We want you to improve your digital personality: it does unlock opportunities even when you are not paying attention. With no ambiguity, it would help your consulting and job-seeking endeavors, if you manage it professionally.