Laptop illustration with social media bubblesManaging and monitoring your internet presence is a hot concept right now, but how can you establish yourself (and by extension, your company) as a leader in the online space?

Internet presence management is the process of organizing and optimizing the online presentation of your self, your company and your brand. This covers everything from your social media presence to what pops up when someone Googles your name or your business' name, and it essentially equates to your real-life reputation, just online.

While for a company this process combines web design and development, blogging, search engine optimization, pay per click marketing and more, for the individual a professional internet presence starts with three simple steps: choosing a professional photo, updating and maintaining your information, and being active on a social media platform you like.

Why a Professional Internet Presence is Important For Those in B2B Companies

No matter if you're a sales person, a marketer, an officer or subject matter expert at your company, your personal reputation matters online. This goes far beyond managing what people see on your Facebook profile, because frankly, that only matters if you're looking for a job.

When prospects connect with you on LinkedIn or Google your name, what "picture" do they get? You are a representative of your company, and your personal brand can have an impact on how your potential customers will view your company.

So how can you start to become a thought leader online so that potential customers will find you, view you as a thought leader and want to do business with your company?

Step 1: A Professional Photo That Shows Personality

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there’s no limit to the value of your professional photo if you get it into the right hands -- aka that of a prospective client.

The first rule of photos is that it should be a recent one. At least every five years, arrange for a photographer, or just a good friend, to snap a few photos and pick the friendliest one. Use a basic photo-editing program like PicMonkey to crop and adjust the photo, and use that photo on your website and in your social media profiles.

Stern and focused is great for the boardroom, but it doesn’t make you approachable online. The best photos show a smiling, friendly, and confident person, with just a dash of personality.

Not sure how to get personality into a photo? Consider keeping your clothes and expression straight-laced, but experimenting with your background: photographs taken in unexpected locations, such as in a park or at the top of a skyline, can add a touch of personality while still keeping it professional and appropriate.

Step 2: Keep Your Story Consistent

The heart of a properly maintained internet presence is consistency of information. Take time in putting together your personal branding and messaging such as your slogan and your elevator speech (and yes, this is one of those tasks that is worth the time). Put it together with two or three very important details or links, such as your company website or portfolio, and make sure that that consistent package is displayed across all of your platforms.

It might seem redundant, but that’s the point -- your prospective clients and business partners are receiving the same, consistent messaging no matter where they find you. And when that messaging is on target, that’s what builds relationships.

Finally, make sure that the contact information is correct -- if you’ve changed offices or have new contact information, scour your internet presence to make sure that it's up to date everywhere.

Step 3: Pick One Platform and Rock It

We've written before about how social media is a fantastic frontline for customer service. But unlike a company, which needs a consistent, active presence on a number of social media platforms, it is perfectly acceptable for individuals to pick one favorite platform and invest his or her time there.

You'll also want to create a simple profile on the major four social media platforms LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook, and update monthly or quarterly. For professional purposes, focus your time on just one. If you're going to choose just one, LinkedIn is probably the one to choose as it is the more professional social network and it's the one where your prospects are.

Bonus Step: Start A Blog

Blogs are powerful traffic drivers for companies, but can be a great business development tool for your company as well.

Let's suppose you're a wastewater engineer and want to comment on industry news, new facilities that come on line, and innovative projects you're currently working on. Because you're a subject matter expert, prospects will find your blog, and ultimately may contact you about new projects that you can pass along to your company.

Your internet presence is in your hands and can ultimately benefit your company, too. How are you going to make the most of it?
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