I recently hosted an online conversation with Sgt. Maj. (Retired) Michael Quinn, CEO and founder of HireMilitary, where we discussed several ways people -- and veterans in particular -- can grow their online visibility. Some of these tips might be familiar; others will likely be new.
Growing your online presence serves many purposes, including helping you to be found by potential employers, making it easier for your boss (or boss' boss) to learn more about your career and growth goals and to showcase your expertise to audiences you may never cross paths with in person.
To grow your visibility online, follow these tips:
1. Focus on Building Relationships.
The online space highlights engagement, interaction and community. You don't set up a LinkedIn profile, for instance, and expect others to just find you, want to hire you and promote you. You must connect with people, share content, comment on their content and focus on building relationships with your online community. Your ability to grow these relationships -- with people around the world and in various industries and career stations -- is astounding. From these connections, you'll grow networking contacts, mentors and supporters who will want to help and refer you, because they experience a mutually beneficial professional relationship with you.
2. Understand the Difference Between Authenticity and Transparency.
Here's how I explain it: To be authentic means that if you answer a question or address an issue, you'll do so from your genuine position and voice. You're not hiding who you are or refraining from participating in conversations that matter to you. On the other hand, transparency is sharing everything with everyone -- nothing held back. I believe some things should remain private and off the internet. You're allowed to refrain from commenting, sharing or disclosing things in your life or background that you choose to keep private.
"Don't post or engage on something online that you wouldn't feel comfortable discussing with every person from your company," Quinn says. He notes that if it's too personal to discuss at work, it doesn't belong online. Great advice!
3. Make the Time to Engage.
It might take work to discipline yourself to be active online. Set a calendar appointment on your daily task list, or routinely get online at the same time or each day to be sure you're a part of important conversations. Quinn said he always thinks about content and engagement, "whenever I have a free moment in the day. I hop on LinkedIn and comment and respond to people. And I have a goal of posting one time per day." Whatever system works best for you -- once a day, twice a week, etc. -- find a rhythm and stick with it.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without [LinkedIn]," Quinn says. He has personally amassed a huge following of veterans, active-duty service members, military spouses and employers who learn from him, engage with his content and support his mission to grow veteran hiring.
4. Find Inspiration for Your Content.
"Everything I do is experience driven," Quinn said. Throughout the day, he logs ideas, content topics or thoughts into his phone so he can share the experiences and thoughts with his online followers later. "You don't need to create content. You just have to document the things that happen in your life," he says.
The opportunity here is to filter the events in your life (that you might want to post about) into categories that fit the platform. Business- or work-related ideas would go onto LinkedIn. More social or casual topics might work better on Facebook or Instagram. Consider the content, then consider the platform.
Quinn is a big fan of video, too, as it allows others to hear your tone, and see you, enhancing how they'll receive your message.
5. Grow Your Value, Brand and Voice.
Quinn tells the story of one of the best things he did when he was new to his role at Ernst & Young after leaving the military: He immediately sent LinkedIn connection requests to senior managers and directors in the company. He added a personal note with his connection request, mentioning he'd just joined the firm as a senior director.
Over time, these company leaders became familiar with his online content, thought leadership and felt they knew him. This enhanced his visibility within his own team, the company and his industry.
He advises veterans to share what they're passionate about. Resist trying to communicate enthusiasm for topics you don't care about. Instead, post, comment and share on topics that are personally meaningful to you. This ensures your content and voice will be more authentic and relatable.
As you navigate the online space, remember that everything you post, share and comment on is public and permanent. Refrain from posting anything online that you could later regret, isn't consistent with the person you are or could be seen as problematic by an employer.
The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty" (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.
A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.
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