Day in and day out, technology continues to change the way we live our lives. Laptops, tablets and smart phones have effectively madeHow do you look? communicating online the norm, and this has changed the way we plan our days, organize our lives, and do business. For many, their phone is the last thing they put down at night, and the first thing they pick up in the morning.

Is it little wonder, then, that how you show up online matters? I am here to tell you it matters… a LOT!

Managing impressions.

If you are a business owner, or someone who works for a business, you know (I hope!) that having a solid online presence has never been more important. Just as a bricks-and-mortar location has to reflect the image you want people to have of your organization when they visit you in person, so too should your online locations and profiles reflect your image to those who are visiting you online. In a growing number of cases, it is your online presence that is the first impression that your prospects will have of you, so you need to make it a good one!

Knowing how to build a rock-solid profile and presence online is a valuable skill in many ways. Websites like LinkedIn for example can help you make career-launching contacts, and business-building connection. On websites where you transact business online, you will need some sort of profile so customers know who they are as dealing with.

People do business with people.

Establishing the Know-Like-Trust factor is utterly critical to moving prospects along the buying cycle. In a world of seemingly endless options, standing out from the crowd in your market space is imperative if you are going to build and grow your business, or the business you work for.

Here are a few of the most important things that go into creating an online profile:

A High Quality, Professional Photo

People do judge a book by its cover. Before they’ve read your profile and before they’ve read anything you say, people are already going to be forming impressions of you based on how you look in your photo.

Aim to have a high quality, professional, high resolution photo for online profiles.

Ideally you should be wearing a suit and tie, or for women a suit jacket or blazer. The image should be crisp and it should be color corrected.

Your Personal Description

Your personal description is where you really get the chance to come out and make your case.

Try to touch on the most compelling things about you and what you have to offer. Use credibility-enhancing statements, such as talking about how you have impacted your customers’ lives, your professional accomplishments, and/or your designations or credentials.

The tone of your profile should be as professionally compelling as possible. However, try to also drop in just one or two little personal tidbits. This will help humanize you and set you out from the crowd.

Focus on References

Last, but certainly not least, your references can make or break you. Each social network’s referencing system works slightly differently, but by and large most communities have some sort of referencing system. On LinkedIn for example, the references are called “recommendations.” The more positive recommendations you have, the more solid your LinkedIn profile looks.

No matter what the reference system looks like, it is important to get as many compelling references as you can. This will mean that you need to reach out to your network of existing customers and ask them to refer you, or, better yet, build this online referral and reference loop into your customer service process.

People viewing your profile will lend a lot more weight to references from past clients, colleagues, associates than what you say about yourself.

Go get to work!

These are the three most important elements of creating a compelling online profile on any website or online community. If you have a professional-looking photo,  a credibility-building description with a hint of personality, and overwhelmingly positive references then you’ve nailed the online profile.