Building Your Professional Image and Reputation
Do you want to be a thought leader in your industry?
You might think the answer is yes but to be honest not many people reach the true peaks of thought leadership. The term is used far too lightly in online networking spaces these days.
Rather than becoming a thought leader, how about you start at the beginning and try to establish a glowing professional image and reputation in your industry first?
Let’s look at the steps to establishing your professional image and reputation.
Dress to impress
Let’s start at the beginning with the image you’re presenting to the world when you’re at work or work-related events.
While office culture has shifted and people are not necessarily suiting up to go into the office everyday, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your professional attire.
Maybe a plain black suit is not quite the right thing to project your desired image and that’s okay. But paying attention to small details such as the quality of the fabric in your clothing, keeping things pressed and clean, adding elegant or expensive details to your wardrobe can really step up your office fashion game.
Bringing these small but refined elements into your wardrobe can communicate your aspirations to grow in the industry and your leadership potential.
Review your personal socials
The truth is, everyone is online these days and it’s never been easier for a company or an industry professional to find your personal social media accounts and stalk you. So, get all your accounts up and tweak these things to ensure you’re projecting a professional image out into the world.
- Change your profile picture. Choose something professional like a headshot where you’re smiling and wearing something appropriate.
- Review your public content and ensure it is positive and doesn’t expose any unorthodox views or offensive humour.
- Change your settings so that people can’t just tag you in photos or post on your wall without you checking and okaying the content.
- Set your profile to private. There’s no reason for people to be able to find everything on your socials.
Now it’s time to get your professional social media up to scratch. Review your LinkedIn or sign up for LinkedIn if you don’t have it already. Follow these steps to create a stellar LinkedIn Profile:
- Add a professional headshot style profile picture. A good profile picture helps you stand out from the crowd.
- Add a background image to personalise your profile. If you have a company banner that works perfectly.
- Write your headline and make it stand out! The headline on your profile can be automatically generated from your positions but rewriting it will help to define how you want to be perceived professionally.
- Write your ‘about’ section and use it as a way to communicate your tone and aspirations for your industry.
- List all out all relevant work experience. Write a small blurb about each job and what you brought to the role.
- Add your skills. This can really help with boosting your profile in search.
- Request recommendations from your colleagues.
Get out there and do some networking in your industry. Go to industry events, conferences or meet ups. Join Facebook groups that bring together professionals from your industry. Get social online and in person.
Networking is about building your contact list, but it’s important to offer value and stay socially connected with your network. Respond and comment on their posts on personal social platforms and professional ones. Make time for them and down the track hopefully they’ll make time for you.
Join industry groups
Find and get memberships to relevant groups for your industry. These memberships can be so valuable to helping you build your network and providing opportunities for professional development.
They will often have discounts on workshops or conferences for industry group members. They also send out newsletters with updates on what’s happening in your industry and events that you can attend.
Find a Mentor or be one
If you’re at the start of your career, finding a mentor can be a great way to accelerate your career path and reach your goals. A mentor can help you work out which direction you need to take next, or what professional development courses will help you ascend to the next level in your career.
If you’re at the mid-level of your career or higher you want to push to be recognised as a leader in your industry. Mentoring a younger professional can help you achieve these goals. Help them to gain access to industry boards or meet the right people to excel in their career. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.
Get out there and promote yourself! Post on LinkedIn about your achievements, offer to write blogs on your area of expertise for newsletters in your industry or relevant websites.
Get yourself onto podcasts to talk about your industry. Or offer to be guest speaker at industry events. Positioning yourself as an expert in a public setting like this looks great on your resume and boosts your social capital in the industry.
Don’t create a separate persona for professional events and work stuff. You should be true to who you are. Allow your passions and motivations for being in your industry to come to forefront.
It is important to separate personal and professional in online spaces – especially if your weekend activities don’t necessarily match what you do 9-5.
BUT don’t try to be something you’re not. Share your own opinions truthfully and back them up with hard evidence or an articulated view of why you believe that to be the case.
People will always have a different opinion but the trick to building an online reputation is to stand by your beliefs and opinions on a topic – because it is likely that others agree with you too and those people are likely looking for someone to lead their niche ideals in the online space.
Take a lesson from Dr Gabor Mate’s theories. Dr Mate is a renowned addiction expert who has very different views from other medical and psychological doctors in his field. Listen to his podcast on the Tim Ferris show to understand how he built a reputation through never flailing from his own beliefs.
Building your professional image and reputation can be difficult but it’s well worth the time and effort to help you build your career and propel you into leadership roles in the industry.
This course might be just the thing to help you level up.