Many of us first started using social media for personal reasons (Twitter, Instagram etc), but as Mike Reader recently pointed out, the lines between the two are increasingly blurred. How do you make your profiles business-effective while still staying yourself?

1. Level the ground

The first step is to make sure your professional social media profiles are all on the same page. Use the same profile picture for each, and, where possible, the same handle. This will make it easier for people to find you and help establish your personal brand. An added advantage is that when people tag you and share their post on a different network, then it still links back to you rather than being a dead link (for example, Instagram to Twitter).

To use a fictional example:

  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/FintechSally
  • Twitter: @FintechSally
  • Instagram: @FintechSally

(This also happens to look neat on business cards and email signatures FYI).

If your Twitter handle is currently @IlovecatsandHughGrant and you work in Fintech, then you might perhaps struggle to be found by the right people. Go for your name or, if it's a very common one, add a relevant keyword to it, such as @socialsellingPaul or @FinTechSally

Take this opportunity to make sure your biographies and links are also consistent on each of those profiles. Identify the key hashtags and keywords that are relevant to your industry:

  • Use those keywords in your LinkedIn summary (this will help you be found)
  • Add those hashtags to your Twitter and Instagram biography


2. Stay authentic

So far, your followers have perhaps been friends, family, and randomers who enjoyed your cat GIFs and strong views on Arsenal results. Now that you're using social media as a way to connect with other professionals, how do you make that transition?

Of course, you may want to trawl through your past posts and make some choice deletions, but the truth is, don't ditch the cat GIFs if that's who you are. Organically find ways to share content that is relevant to your field, but keep your personal twist on it.

It's important to bring your whole self to work - your hobbies and your interests make you you. I know that a cat GIF take on the Fintech industry would make me more inclined to follow @FintechSally than a standard press release.

3. Connect with the right people

As well as sharing authentic and relevant content, and giving your social media accounts a makeover, you will also want to connect to the right people to build up your relationship. Most social media networks allow you to sync contacts with your work email address which is the easiest way to do this.

Twitter: Head here to sync your email address book with your Twitter account. It's a good idea to be selective with which ones you follow - CEO of a Fintech startup (yes!) Pizza delivery provider (No! Maybe?). Simply syncing those contacts, even if you don't follow them, means that you'll now be turning up in their 'Who to follow' suggestions, so a soft way for them to be reminded of you.

LinkedIn: Head here to sync your email address with LinkedIn or upload a CSV file. This second option is particularly useful if you have a list of key contacts. The disadvantage of this method is that you cannot personalize your invitation to connect, so it works best with people who already know you.

Of course, nothing beats one-to-one connections. Follow leaders in your field, and engage with them in the hope that they will follow back. Tools like Buzzsumo and Buffer can help you identify key influencers to connect with.

Alternative: If, on the other hand, you want to keep your personal social media accounts private, then consider locking those accounts down so that only your inner circle sees your posts, and/or using an obscure handle so that employers and clients don't connect the private you with the public you.