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Building a professional digital profile

How a professional digital identity and its associated activities can help job hunters to build their networks and stand out from the crowd.
© University of Exeter

What does all this mean for ourselves as individual professionals living, working and learning in this increasingly digital world?

Living in a networked society means that our connections are no longer just in the physical world, but also in the digital space. We sit at the centre of a complex network of on and offline relationships. It is important to nurture our networks effectively if we want to maximise our potential in both our personal and professional lives.

Whilst many of you may be regular users of a range of social media tools, some of you might like to know more. The UK’s Open University has produced a comprehensive free online Social Media Toolkit which you may find useful. It is a collection of tips, recommendations, tools and guidance on social media best practice aimed in particular at those who use social media in a professional capacity.

Digital literacies are increasingly important. This doesn’t just mean knowing how to use a computer! IT proficiency is the starting point, but to take full advantage of the digital world we also need to be able to:

  • effectively search for information and store the results.

  • evaluate the reliability of online information.

  • use editing, media-capture, communication and presentation tools.

  • collaborate and support others to participate effectively in online communities.

  • grow, manage and activate our networks effectively

  • present an appropriate online image and stay safe while doing so.

  • create and upload original material – such as by blogging or vlogging.

  • understand and respect the intellectual property rights of others

Active participation in relevant online social networks not only boosts reputation, it gives us new digital skills in communication, information management, and multimedia creativity. It requires a long-term strategy to develop a “digital footprint” which demonstrates the scale and scope of our skills. Building and managing this digital presence takes time and effort.

You might also like to check out the Digital Literacies Framework developed by JISC.

The successful author and speaker Chris Brogan talks about ‘paying it forward’ – meaning we should give before we receive. For example, don’t connect with someone on LinkedIn just when you need to get a recommendation from them. Focus on sharing useful information with your network and commenting on relevant blog posts on an ongoing basis, so that when you need some help in return, your request is well received and is actioned positively.

For example, blogging can develop new skills in sharing, innovation, creativity and reflective thinking. This also holds true for vloggers (video bloggers) who can build up large numbers of followers, create an international reputation and find business opportunities by providing useful content. For example, data from this BBC article about Tubular Labs suggests that there are more than 150 UK vloggers with over a million followers.

Obviously this is the very top end of the market, but it’s not all about the numbers and it’s very easy to get started! There are many free blogging platforms (e.g. WordPress ) You can find out more in this article about the value of blogging).
It expands on the following benefits:

  • demonstrates passion

  • suggests dedication and motivation

  • shows creativity

  • keeps you in the loop

  • makes you a little different from everyone else

You can also set up a Youtube channel, or post on high quality images sites such as Flickr.

Do you already have a blog? Why not share a link to it in the comments below and explain how blogging adds value to your professional profile?

© University of Exeter
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