Those who have known me realize that the recent push by professionals to insure that they have a comprehensive and coordinated brand, message, and identity in the digital space especially social media is something that I have been recommending for many, many years.
Any professional in today's market realizes that there is always competition for talent. In such intense contests, every competitor needs an edge and a way to stand out. Social media is an excellent way to communicate, network and exchange ideas, insights and you in general. Yet the most basic concept of "what to share" is rarely answered.
Individuals on social media love to share what they eat, what they wear, some quick comments, and they connect and follow people that have similar interests, are "cool and hip" to their generation, or have something interesting to say. This is not just limited to personal perspectives but professional ones as well.
More experienced professionals all too often tend to over think and over plan what they want to say. It is simple really: just say it. Whatever "it" is. This is more than making a statement, it is about telling a story. And telling a professional story that captures the audience, makes it interesting, and something that your audience wants to engage in is something that takes thought.
A big topic of conversation involves whether to seek out a service that can help not only create a resume, but manage LinkedIn profiles as well. Firstly any service that starts with a resume and profiles without speaking to fundamentals of "value" and "story" I would be hesitant about. I would also be hesitant about any service that has "served thousands of professionals". You are looking to stand out not blend in. So any service that has thousands of customers means to me anyway that there are thousands of similar styles running around that can be very similar.
The scenario is a very straightforward one. If for example someone would run a Bing or Google search with you as a the term what would they see? I am not talking about specifics such as pictures, etc. I am talking about a high level concept. What would they see? Would they see your hobbies, your family, your recipes? Would they have to sift through 10 pages of results before getting to "you"? Would they see your Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media as a cohesive, coherent story or a series of disjointed, unconnected instances? This does not even cover the idea of "inappropriate" data points that they may find.
Looks like a lot of work? It is. Yet also a necessary one. What do I mean by this? With a little effort at the keyboard a variety of information that can be useful is easily uncovered. For example:
- Digital Identity is almost exclusively LinkedIn: This demonstrates only a rudimentary understanding of social media and it's impacts. Typical professionals in this case have really basic information in terms of story and content. However so do the other say 1M+ LinkedIn members. So at this point the professional is simply "going with the crowd" and "blending in". Not really a great message to be sending out to potential customers or employers.
- Digital Identity on Twitter: Not only can the amount of tweets be seen but so can the followers and those following. Followers or their types can be particularly interesting: are the followers other executives? well known industry entities? Can a pattern be seen in terms of types of professionals? The topics that are shared are also interesting as these can be used to determine what the representative topics of the professional are.
And numerous other examples. Essentially anyone who is looking to be seen as an adaptive, saavy professional needs to have a digital identity and social media presence that reinforces this concept.
So circling back to the question of whether to engage in services that can help professionals create this product: yes but take the time to do some research and find the proper fit. Choose services that take the time to partner, that have a history of helping their clients, and while they should have a portfolio of works, be very aware you are trying to "stand out" and not "blend in" so be very sensitive of services that mention "thousands of customers".
So take the time to invest in your digital identity. It will be well worth it in the future.
As a little plug, I have done a lot of work investigating and using a variety of services from large and small groups. Of all the ones that I have found, I like the services of CareerTrend. Admittedly this is a higher end service but if you happen to be in the market for this type of service, they have been the best by far. For the purposes of full disclosure I have been a past customer of their service.