If you have an ear to the online sphere, you know Google+, Google’s newest social platform, is all the rage. While Google+ is still in invitation-only mode, early results indicate it could be a keeper. The Wall Street Journal estimates Google+ had 20 million visitors in three weeks. (Google declines to comment, and leaders are cagey when asked for specifics.)
Many early adopters are excitedly proclaiming the new network a replacement for everything from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook. No one knows how things will shake out in the social networking sphere, but there is no doubt Google+ heightens the importance of your Google profile.
If you use Google for search and have a profile already, you may have noticed Google provides search results “from people you know.” Current Google search results may include links (even on page one) identified as being shared by your community, assuming your contacts share links regarding the topics you search. They pass along these links by giving articles +1, Google’s version of a Facebook “like.”
Whether or not you choose to join Google+, Google’s ability to connect your profile with searches and the fact that more recruiters may begin to search Google profiles for people to hire make your Google profile an important and powerful tool in your online arsenal.
If you do incorporate Google+ into your online activities, a profile you may not have taken much time to update becomes the backbone of what could be a very visible presence in Google+. It is worth taking the time now either to create or update your Google profile to be sure it represents information you want people to know about you. If you do join Google+, the network uses your profile to populate your bio.
The good thing is, most of your Google Profile is similar to pieces of your other online profiles, so if you’ve written strong messages on other networks, you will be able to transfer the information to Google. Take a look at the following suggestions to make sure you represent yourself professionally in the newest social network. Start out by visiting Google profiles.
Add your name and gender. This information will be public and available to anyone on the Web.
First things first, add a photo for your profile. Conventional wisdom suggests using the same avatar you use for other social networks, so potential followers will easily recognize you.
If you’re familiar with Facebook’s home profile page, you will recognize a similar photo layout on your Google profile; you may display several photos at the top of your profile. Select pictures that represent you at your professional best. In my Google+ profile, I include a picture of me with my book about social networking, a photo from my visit to Maggie Mistal’s SIRIUS/XM radio program, and a shot of me speaking. Think about what images would best represent your professional brand. Consider taking some pictures specifically with the goal of populating your profile.
In the “introduction,” you have an opportunity to include your “pitch.” It’s your Google bio, and could be very similar or the same as what you use in your LinkedIn “summary.”
Make sure you keep your target audience in mind when you populate this section. There’s no need to wax eloquent—get to the point and include keywords that describe your professional assets.
“Bragging rights” suggests including some tongue-in-cheek information, such as “survived high school.” Don’t be frivolous when writing a professional profile; include awards and accolades pertinent to your professional targets. It’s a good idea to fill out this section, but unless you’re in a creative profession, avoid trying to be funny.
“Occupation” can be your job title or description. Especially if you’re unemployed, consider using a description similar to your headline on LinkedIn. Download the free sample chapter of my book for suggestions of what to write in a headline for LinkedIn and Google. Google uses this description as your “tagline” on your Google+ profile under your name, so it’s an important addition.
“Employment” offers a chance to list your work history. It doesn’t allow more description than your place of work, title, and dates. It’s a good idea to fill it in completely, as it will help people find and identify you down the road. Be sure to be careful with dates. This information should be consistent with all of your other online profiles (specifically, LinkedIn), and your resume. Include links to any other sites you own and use. Include profiles for social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (assuming it’s all professional). Add links to your professional websites/social resumes.
“Education” asks for your school names, degree (or field of study), and dates. Make sure these dates are consistent with other online and job application materials. You don’t want to raise any red flags with prospective employers who find your Google profile during a search.
“Places you’ve lived” may be less important than your other information, unless you want to highlight international experience or some other geographically focused identity in your profile. How you fill out the sections at the end is up to you. Don’t feel compelled to list a phone number unless you want it to be available.
It’s a good idea to list nicknames or maiden names (to help with search). As for the “looking for” section, consider keeping it professional. It’s not really necessary for people to know if you are seeking a relationship or not. “Networking” is a great reply.
Note, Mashable reports, beginning August 1st, all Google profiles will be public and Google will delete private profiles. However, your full name and gender are the only information you must share to maintain a profile with Google. If your profile is set to “private,” be sure to re-visit your settings if you don’t want it to be deleted.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.