Your online personal brand can make or break you when it comes to career advancement.
When a potential connection types your name into a search engine, what will they find?
Think about the last time you were craving a certain type of food. Let’s go with Pizza, for example. You likely Googled something like “pizza restaurants near me.” You were then bombarded with a list a mile long of pizza joints in your area. So how did you narrow down your choice? This is the same process people go through when they search for CPAs or Google your name to learn more about you specifically.
You wouldn’t choose to eat at a pizza shop with 2-star ratings and photos of a dirty, dingy dining hall, right? So why would someone choose to work with you if your online personal brand gave the impression you were sub-standard as well?
Having a positive, presentable online brand can open up opportunities you’d miss out on otherwise. To help you get your online presence in order, here are a few tips you can use to build your online personal brand.
Ok, Googling yourself admittedly sounds a bit odd, but it’s a valuable practice.
Flip the scenario around. Pretend you’re the employer searching for information about you.
If you’ve never done this before, you may be surprised what you’ll find.
Remember that night in 2005 at a bar in Key West with your friends that you blasted photos of across your now dormant MySpace page? Yes, those photos are still there.
Conducting periodic searches on yourself can help you uncover unwanted pieces of info. When you are confronted with something like this, contact the owner of the space where the undesirable content appears and ask them to remove it. Site administrators will typically be happy to help.
Additionally, by creating high quality content about yourself and your expertise, you can bump up more flattering pieces of info about you or your firm in search results[SH1] .
Create Positive Content
Now that you’ve done away with all the negative stuff hanging around out there, it’s time to get some positive content circulating.
You have a college degree, you’ve passed the most difficult exams known to man, you’ve got excellent early work experience and you really know your business.
So talk about it.
Write articles, contact bloggers and authoritative websites to get your work published. You may want to start with the small-timers. Once you get a few pieces published, the more major players will want to pick up your work.
Other places we recommend seeking publication are your firm’s newsletter and state societies.
The more content you have out there representing your expertise, the more likely it is that your expertise will start showing up in search results.
Enhance Your Bio
Your firm likely has a website in place. If not, that’s a whole other article. Assuming that this critical piece is in place, you’ll want to contact whoever is responsible for the site and make sure you have a prominently placed bio added.
This bio should be written by you and edited by a professional writer to ensure two things.
- The content accurately represents what info you want to put out there on the web about your professional experience and your character in general
- The content will be of utmost quality and will be optimized for search
Once the bio is in place, make sure you add the URL to your social media channels and other digital touch points.
Social sites like LinkedIn are great for networking. There are also hundreds of online forums available that focus on accounting-related topics.
Sign up, optimize your profile, and start getting involved in conversations. Pinpoint conversations where members are discussing topics where you possess a great deal of expertise. Then interject with positive contributions of your own.
It’s critical that you don’t try to join conversations unless you know what you’re talking about. Your lack of expertise will be exposed quickly, and you’ll end up damaging your personal brand, rather than boosting it.
You can make a ton of excellent connections on these channels. So get involved, and start networking.
Ask for Recommendations
This is really an extension of getting social. If you’ve done any work in the past that clients or employers have raved about, ask them to construct and post a positive review or recommendation.
If you aren’t listed on any Internet directory sites, you can always ask for recommendations on your LinkedIn page.
You can tell someone how great you are a million times, but it is much more credible and they will be far more likely to believe it once they hear it from someone else who can vouch for you.
As a CPA, clients and employers expect you to be at the top of your game. Paying attention to your online personal brand is a great way to make sure that you’re represented as such.
People’s opinions about a product, service or person are formed within seconds. That’s why it’s so important that what they find when they search for you or your firm that they are met with positive information and a positive online personal brand.
So take that first step and Google yourself. Then start improving your online personal brand to open up exciting, new career opportunities. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your colleagues. You might be surprised at the value of the input you receive.