As hard as you may try, privacy on the Internet is tough to manage. Across social networks, blogs and websites, your digital imprint is everywhere and sometimes beyond your immediate control. Even with pseudonyms and heavy privacy settings, if you have something to hide, it definitely shouldn't be online. On the Internet, information can quickly become a commodity that will slip through your hands. (Online is not the only place where your information is available. For more, read 5 Overlooked Places Where Your Identity Can Be Stolen.)
TUTORIAL: Business Plan

Instead of retreating offline to hide from prospective employers, admissions counselors and decision makers, leverage the Internet to your advantage by building a personal brand. In all likelihood, your negative traits are less extreme than you may think, and you're better off investing your time in focusing on your strengths to create a positive self-image. Showcase yourself in the best possible light by leveraging these seven strategies:

Buy a Domain Name
Unlike websites on free web hosting platforms, domain names are personable and essential for building your online character. In the online marketing world, they are also important for bringing your name to the first page of search engine results. That way when somebody Googles you, they'll land on your site very quickly. Even better, you control what you display on your site.

Create an Online Portfolio
If you've done great work, showcase it online. Above all, prospective employers and recruiters care about work with a strong return on investment. Leverage your website to showcase your worth with examples of what makes you proud.

Start Tweeting
Twitter conversations confirm to one of two extremes: mindless chatter or intellectually engaging discussions. Use this platform to establish yourself in the middle as a smart person, with a knack for down-to-earth and fun conversations. Believe it or not, Twitter is also a powerful networking tool for meeting and engaging with new people across industries. You don't need to stay plugged in all-day-every-day. For busy people, even once in a while is good enough. (To learn about tweeting, check out Tweeting: The Next New "Profession.")

Make LinkedIn Your Professional Community
LinkedIn is more than just an online-resume: it is a robust professional networking platform. Make an effort to actively build your LinkedIn network to create a digital map of your connections across industries. Moreover, you can join discussion groups to ask and answer professional questions. By sharing information, you position yourself as an authority in your field, and by maintaining a network, you keep yourself on recruiters' radars.

Start a Blog
Blogs are a great way to discuss your knowledge in depth. Put substantial work into writing that is unique in your niche, and your blog will become a pull-mechanism for recruiting new followers. It does not matter what your industry, experience level or skill set is, you can write to impress your clients, educators or prospective employers. More importantly, writing can help you personalize your voice in a way that you can't through short social status updates.

Contribute to Industry-Established Blogs
Across industries, there are blogs that appeal to industry leaders. Why not write for one? If you're looking for free publicity, you can offer to submit a guest post. You can also ask whether paid freelancing positions are available. Either way, you'll be able to publicize your name.

Look Awesome with a Great Photo
No matter what you do, look good while you do it. Instead of using your awkwardly dark webcam or smartphone photos, ask a friend to take a genuinely compelling photo that showcases who you are. If you're a professional blogger, writer or artist, you might even want to invest in a professional headshot. Online, everything is two-dimensional, so a photo is worth more words than you could possibly imagine.

The Bottom Line
Don't let the Internet scare you from sharing who you are. Leverage social media to your advantage to showcase your strengths and put your best foot forward. Professional brand marketers consistently deploy this strategy – and keep in mind that it works on a personal level too. (For other strategies in searching for a job, see 4 New Job-Search Trends.)

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

    If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
  2. Professionals

    Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?

    Both brokers and traders buy and sell securities, but there are some subtle differences between the two careers.
  3. Entrepreneurship

    10 Characteristics Of Successful Entrepreneurs

    Do you have the qualities of a successful entrepreneur? Those who do tend to share these 10 traits.
  4. Stock Analysis

    3 Obscure Twitter Accounts Making Money Off of You (TWTR)

    Learn how Twitter accounts that share quotes or information, such as @HistoryInPics and @Notebook, make money from their audiences.
  5. Personal Finance

    Don't Sign That Non-Compete Without Reading This

    Non-compete contracts aren't just for high-level execs these days. How to protect yourself if your employer – or prospective employer – insists you sign one.
  6. Entrepreneurship

    Are You Really an Entrepeneur? A Reality Check

    If you are going to be an entrepreneur, and you’re doing it on a shoestring, you’ll need more than a good idea. Here are some skills to master.
  7. Career Education & Resources

    Laws & Regulations To Know Before Changing the Name of Your Business

    Discover some of the most important steps you need to take after making a decision to change your legally established business name.
  8. Entrepreneurship

    What is a Franchise?

    In a franchise, the franchisee acquires access to the proprietary knowledge, processes and trademarks of an established business – the franchisor.
  9. Professionals

    Financial Career Options For Professionals

    A career in finance can take a business professional down many different paths.
  10. FA

    The Basics of The Series 79 Exam

    Passing the Series 79 exam is usually necessary for anyone who wants to work in investment banking.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Do working capital funds expire?

    While working capital funds do not expire, the working capital figure does change over time. This is because it is calculated ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does escheatment impact a company?

    In recent years, state governments have become increasingly aggressive in enforcing escheatment laws. As a result, many businesses ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How much working capital does a small business need?

    The amount of working capital a small business needs to run smoothly depends largely on the type of business, its operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What does low working capital say about a company's financial prospects?

    When a company has low working capital, it can mean one of two things. In most cases, low working capital means the business ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center