It is not surprising to see people complaining about the lack of unprofessionalism in the corporate and business world in general. In the physical world, it is already a commonplace problem. Now that more and more interactions are being done online it is still an issue. Online the susceptibility to turning a blind eye to professionalism is even higher. People’s general expectations online tend to be razor-sharp and higher. Thus if you drop the fall regarding professionalism online the consequences can be hard-hitting. That is why in this article I am discussing some useful tips that can help you be professional at all times online.
Having An Active Professional Website
Before we even go anywhere people now first check whether or not you have a website. Having a website is in itself considered a mark of professionalism. Not having one is widely considered to be suspicious or a lack of seriousness. Interestingly having a website actually puts you in line because you will have to do things professionally. So there is a lot that having a website does in boosting your professional image and in making you do things professionally online. Having a simple professional website set up for you is not that expensive. For around US$120 (even less) you can get it set up.
Having A Complete And Active LinkedIn Profile
I have noticed many people in Zimbabwe are still taking LinkedIn seriously. If you have ever been on LinkedIn you will know that “professional” is the best word to describe the platform. I have even noticed that more and more prospective employers, investors, business partners, and so on, check to see whether or not you have a LinkedIn profile. Not having one can be considered as a red flag given how it having one is considered an integral part of being professional online. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile yet I suggest you create one, no matter your field of endeavour. The platform itself even tows you in line to behave professionally online. When on the platform you will notice it is very difficult to just post or comment irresponsibly.
Being Conscientious In Your Engagements
Being conscientious means being influenced by conscience. This means you are governed by strict regard to the dictates of conscience. In essence, you do what you do is dictated by the known or supposed rules of right and wrong. This applies to all online platforms you are on. Before you post, share, or comment on anything think about whether it is right or wrong. Be sensitive to other people’s feelings, cultures, beliefs, values, and so on. It is very easy to come off as racist, xenophobic, discriminatory, insensitive, and so on. It can even be your choice of words or your tone; be very conscientious. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest vices on the internet today; do not be found perpetuating it. Being cognizant of all these dynamics and using them to engage appropriately is a true indicator of being professional. It applies to every stakeholder, from businesses, startups, to customers and all related entities.
Have Clean Digital Footprints
Did you know that almost 60 per cent of employees have lost jobs due to unclean digital footprints? Did you also know that roughly 50 per cent of employers regularly monitor their staff’s online activity? I have done an article on the importance of your digital footprint. What you say or do online matters. It is not everything you must respond to or participate in. it is not everyone or every entity that comes the way that you must associate with. Just one unclean digital act can dent your professional image in an instant. Many examples from the past have shown how even an honest mistake online can ruin your career or image. Regularly back-track; assessing your digital accounts e.g. social media. Get rid of any stuff that can tarnish your image or how people perceive you. In your daily activities online always think about the implications of what you are about to say or do.
Structure Any Content You Put Out Orderly
This is one of those things that most people do not take seriously online. Be it you are sending an email, posting a blog, making a post, commenting, and so on – particularly on posting and commenting. Structure your things in order all the time. For example, when making a lengthy post, appropriately paragraph it so that it is not cumbersome. Inculcate in you a principle of not mixing up languages like I see many doing.
If you want to use Shona, use it entirely in a piece of content. If you want to use English, use it entirely. In fact, as much as possible, stick to English, since it is a universal language. This of course depends on the platform you are on but cultivate that habit mostly. Be attentive to the use of good grammar, correct spellings, and so on. These seemingly small things go a long way in making you look professional online.
Another thing, avoid short-hand or colloquialism by all means. On some platforms, it does not matter, but in most cases it really does. For example, you are putting out a video, be sensitive to the language barrier aspect. Incorporate the use of English subtitles – something most Zimbabwean content creators overlook. Putting out a Shona video can be considered discriminatory by a Ndebele person. Thus using English subtitles can thwart that sensitive issue. So much to talk about here but I am sure you see the importance of structuring your content orderly.
Respond And Do So Promptly
This applies to anyone and most importantly businesses, corporates, institutions, and the like. It can be direct messages, it can be comments or any engagements; learn to promptly respond. Most entities or people lose marks on professionalism because of this. I have often noticed people complaining that most social media influencers only care about people when they want their support. Then when it is the supporters or followers reaching to them they do not bother to respond. That really comes off as being unprofessional and it is a selfish thing. If you cannot personally take time to respond find someone to do it for you. Have a social media manager who can handle all your engagements. This is central to boosting your professional image online.
These 6 tips can significantly enhance your professional image online. It is something to be aimed to have a label of being professional online. Many are lacking in that regard so putting your things in order will make you stand out.