This resource will explain online presence, including why you should manage it, how to control it and how to build it.
What is an online presence?
An ‘online presence’ refers to the presentation and management of an individual’s or company’s branding in the online sphere (Cohn 2014). To put it simply, your online presence is what someone might find if they looked you up using a search engine and how that information illustrates your character.
Your online presence isn’t just about having a LinkedIn account, but rather about evaluating how all of your social media accounts contribute to the big picture of who you are. Twitter, WordPress, Instagram and many other accounts can positively contribute to your online presence.
An online presence also isn’t just about risk management. Locking down your private accounts to ensure employers are not judging you on your behaviour outside of work is certainly an important facet of managing your online presence, but so too is building up your online presence through public networks so that you can demonstrate your knowledge, expertise and personality to others.
Why manage your online presence?
- Showcase your personality and potential. It is common practice for employers to Google potential candidates. Maintaining an effective online presence will ensure that the information they find best reflects your character and personality.
- Build a network. Managing an online presence will give the opportunity to create a network with other like-minded professionals and students. You can use this network to expand your professional or personal knowledge. Take a look at our Personal Learning Network resource to learn more.
- Create an online portfolio. An effective online presence can include, or form part of, a portfolio of work that showcases your knowledge or expertise in your field. This is not restricted to only creative arts students – no matter what field you study in you can demonstrate your knowledge through blog posts, tweets and more.
Controlling your online presence
To manage your online presence, it is important for you to be aware what information about you is available online, and how to manage who can access that information.
The very first thing to do is a quick Google search of your full name, which will give you an idea of what information about you is available publicly online. If there is anything indecent, sensitive or content that might not look good to a potential employer, now would be a good time to remove it or restrict access to it.
Evaluate your social media settings
It is okay for you to have social media for personal use, but be sure to evaluate the privacy settings of each account to make sure any private photos, videos or comments are not made public. Most platforms allow you to restrict access to your content to only those you connect with. An alternative to doing this is to ensure that public accounts you would like to remain private do not contain any identifying details, such as your full name.
Building your online presence
To build an effective online presence, create social media accounts that you can use to show off the knowledge and skills that contribute positively to your online presence. There are lots of social media sites that can be used you do this. Below we will look at Twitter, WordPress and LinkedIn as examples.
Twitter is an online platform that allows you to share short messages called tweets. You can use Twitter to share information relating to your professional field or area of study, or simply to talk about your personal interests. If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, take a look at our Twitter resource.
Simple tips on using Twitter for professional purposes:
- Use your own name as your handle. It is best to stick to your own name to ensure that people can easily find your account.
- Tweet about your field. Tweeting about your professional field or area of study is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. It is also an opportunity to start conversations with other individuals.
- Follow companies or individuals. Stay up to date with the latest news in your field by following companies or well-known individuals.
- Interact with others. Favourite, retweet or reply to tweets from companies or well-known individuals to connect with them and to demonstrate your knowledge.
- Don’t be afraid to show personality. Although you might feel the need to tweet in a way that reflects you in the best light and to only talk about things relevant to your field, this could come off as robotic and disingenuous. Remember that an online presence is an opportunity to show off who you are.
WordPress is platform used to create blogs and websites. You can use WordPress to create a professional portfolio, or to share long-form content that demonstrates your knowledge of your field and your communication skills. If you are unfamiliar with WordPress, take a look at our WordPress resource.
Simple tips on using WordPress for professional purposes:
- Use your name as the title of your blog or site. Like Twitter, it is best to stick to using your own name on WordPress to ensure that people can easily find your blog or website using a search engine.
- Blog about your field. Write blog posts regarding news or topics relevant to your field or area of study to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge.
- Follow companies and individuals. Following companies and individuals will allow you to stay up to date with what is happening in your field, and will likely inspire you when writing posts.
- Choose the right template. WordPress has hundreds of templates designed to suit different purposes, including ones that showcase visual media more so than text. Choose a template that suits the portfolio of work you are looking to curate.
- Use tags. Tag your blog posts with key words so that others can find and sort through your posts.
LinkedIn is a social networking site focused on employability. Your LinkedIn profile functions as an online version of your resume. A defining feature of LinkedIn is that it allows you to build a network of your current and past colleagues who can add weight to your claims about your experience and expertise.
Careers Central has resources and classes on how to use LinkedIn for professional purposes.
- Cohn, M 2014, ‘What is an Online Presence?, LinkedIn, blog post, 6 May, viewed 2 November 2016,