Showing up professionally in the digital world

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

When I work with my clients around their appearance and presence and how they’re showing up in the world, we look at their clothing, their brand and their digital imagery. In today’s digital landscape the lines between personal and professional life have become blurred. Customers, clients, colleagues and others are watching, and in their minds how you do anything is how you do everything.

According to Statistica, 70 percent of the population uses at least one social media channel. In addition, Link Humans has found that of the 7.2 billion people on earth, 3 billion have internet use, 2.1 billion are active on social media, and 1.7 billion use social networks on their mobile device. Finally, Ad Age has found that consumer purchasing decisions are in large part based on what and who they see on social media, particularly 84 percent of CEOs and VPs (Lenati). Translation? You’re being watched. Your appearance and behavior in the digital world are paramount.

If you haven’t already established a significant presence on their social media platform of choice, you may actually be in a better place than those who have been in game. There’s less likelihood that you’ll have undo some damage that may have negatively impacted your professional reputation.

When it comes to creating a professional and positive digital presence consider these four key questions.

  • How am I showing up online?
  • How do I want to show up online?
  • How are others perceiving me online?
  • How are the first three points aligned to what’s unique, wonderful and true about who I am, my business and what I want to project?

Take some times to ask and answer these questions and if you really want to get some good data in response to these questions, select five individuals whose opinions you trust and ask them to answer these questions for you. Compare your response to theirs in order to gain a clear perspective of how you are showing up digitally.

Once you receive that information here are four things you can do create a visual impact in the digital world:

Be authentic: It’s so easy to create a persona online that doesn’t really reflect who you are, your brand or your message. It’s absolutely acceptable to review others’ social media sites for inspiration, but not to copy. I know they say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, but I personally think it’s an accurate indicator of confusion (about your gifts and what you have to offer), laziness and being disingenuous. You are the messenger of your brand so be sure it’s communicating YOUR values and passion to your potential clients and customers.

Be consistent: As a business owner you should have content and information to share with the rest of the world. Find a way to share it in digestible snippets. Do you need to be present on social media on a daily basis ? Yes, but do you need to be on all day? No. Use the current and popular scheduling systems available to share your posts so you can manage your time wisely. Whatever frequency you choose, just be sure it’s consistent and relevant. Stay abreast of what’s happening in your industry and field and be sure to share your thoughts from your businesses perspective and/or offer to help.

Be seen: Create a visual statement that projects and promotes the signature style and image of your business. One of the best ways you can do this is by using your signature color(s) in your clothing, your cover photo, your images and even your fonts. You want your brand to be easily identifiable and visually impactful.

Be professional: This goes for your personal social media accounts too. Don’t wear things too revealing or post suggestive pictures. Also, just because you didn’t take or post the picture doesn’t mean it won’t appear online. Once you’re “tagged” in a photo it becomes a part of the network. The old adage still applies, “don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother or grandmother to see.”

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, a certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting, is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. These columns specialize in strategies for developing a positive and professional self-image. Walsh can be reached at carol@evolvingyourimage.com.

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