Pssst: A Great Professional Presence Online Is Easier Than You Think

Professional reputation management is worthwhile. A positive online image can help you get a better job or recover quickly from sudden unemployment. It can even net you job offers you didn’t seek out! If nothing else, job offers provide real market data on your value and can help you negotiate a raise in your current position.

Despite the rewards of a well-managed professional image, I see many people shy away from it. Losing 50 pounds seems intimidating when taken all at once, and so can building a vibrant professional network. No one achieves these goals overnight. Work on small chunks over time, and you’ll gradually create your professional brand and contacts.

The key? knock down the low-hanging fruit first. Take LinkedIn: it's an easy, effective foundation for your online professional presence. At publication time nearly 470 million professionals have LinkedIn profiles, sharing some 10 billion endorsements with their network members. A recent survey shows almost 90% of recruiters find candidates using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn baby steps

Baby-Steps To LinkedIn Reputation Success

You already know you should complete all sections of your LinkedIn profile. So what else is there to do? Well, you can also tick off other quick and easy tasks to look great and get found on LinkedIn. I did the following effective and painless activities:

  1. Activate the LinkedIn vanity personal URL (, which simplifies adding your LinkedIn profile to your personal business cards, resume, and professional correspondence.
  2. Insert your LinkedIn URL into your email signature. Put it in both your personal and professional email accounts if your company will let you.
  3. Snap a new profile photo. Take a professional headshot where your eyes are visible, you’re looking at the camera, and you’re smiling. Crop from your shoulders to about an inch above your head, so your face occupies most of the frame. Great professional photos!
  4. Update your profile’s professional subtitle. Many folks leave on LinkedIn’s default--current job title and company. You’re so much more, though! Add a few unique details. What do you have background in? How do your contributions create an impact? What are your strengths? After all, who sounds more interesting: Marketing Director at Acme, Inc. or Results-Oriented Marketing Leader Who Takes the Anxiety out of Digital & Content Marketing?
  5. Join at least 10 relevant LinkedIn groups. Groups increase your LinkedIn visibility and let you connect with more people. Relevant groups include alumni (your school and previous employers), your industry/skills/job title, associations (both professional and civic), and local “networking” groups. Ensure you join groups in your geographic area, as they’ll connect you to local networks and contacts. Also join groups you think your manager would join.
  6. Garden your LinkedIn for a few minutes each week. You can do stuff like:
  7. Add an accomplishment to a recent role on your profile.
  8. Invite someone to connect, and include a personal note.
  9. Accept an invitation from someone, and send them a "welcome to my network" note.
  10. Read and respond to an invitation from an unknown person. Specifically:
    1. Review their profile.
    2. Ask yourself: Does it seem logical to connect with this person? If yes, connect.
    3. If you feel uncertain, send them this message instead: “Your invite intrigued me. How do you see us networking and working together?”
    4. Wait for a response.
  11. Share valuable information with your public feed or one of your groups.
  12. Answer a question, comment in a discussion, or ask a group or your public feed a question. This improves visibility without self-aggrandizing, and it helps you look like an expert.
  13. Try to help someone else out!

Want Extra Credit In Online Reputation Management?

While it’s easy to get lost in perpetual LinkedIn optimization, there's other tasting low-hanging fruit awaiting you online. I’ve gathered a few quick and easy bonus activities you can do to support your best professional image. I’ve done each of the below in just minutes:

  1. Set up a Google Alert for your own name, especially if you publish material. Learn more at
  2. Increase privacy settings on any personal social media accounts so your professional information becomes more prominent and accessible in search. No potential professional contact or future employer wants to see drunk party pics.
  3. Copy that great LinkedIn headshot to your other professional social media profiles, websites, and accounts. Look at you with your consistent branding!
  4. Post your portfolio online if you can show your work publicly. LinkedIn’s a good start—it lets you attach projects, presentations, links, and other content to your work experience. Better yet, set up a simple, free website to post your projects. Check out Wordpress to get started.

Go Forth And Show The Internet Your Best, Professional Self

Take five minutes tonight and try one or two of the above suggestions. You may find these quick wins a little addictive. Ah, the taste of professional reputation victory.If you decide to level up even farther, many free resources exist online to guide you. Since LinkedIn dominates other professional social networks, LinkedIn-related advice abounds. Some sources I respect on the topic:

I urge you to dig into your professional brand beyond LinkedIn, too. When you’re ready, CNET offers a great primer on handling your overall online reputation.

I’d love to hear what you decided to try and how it worked!