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Build Your Online Presence for Networking, Career Building & Job Search: Home

This guide mainly shows how to develop online presence on LinkedIn as well as other platforms

Now, applying for a job does not only mean mailing off your resumé and cover letter. Your online presence, or a digital footprint, can be part of your application. 

Use general search engines like Google, Bing, or Duckduckgo to search your name. What do the search results say about you? They are your online presence. Are you satisfied with what these search results say about you? Your online presence changes when you publish an image, write a blog, post a tweet, or interact with someone in a public space. In a nutshell, it is determined by what you publicly put out online. A 2006 survey* of 100 executive recruiters by job search and recruiting network ExecuNet found that 77% use search engines to learn about candidates. A 2013 nationwide survey** of hiring managers and HR professionals by Harris Interactive found that 39% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.   

Even it is still controversial whether googling a job applicant is legal or not, the fact is, you probably won’t get a chance to defend whatever is discovered about you, so if anything could even be perceived as inappropriate, you should make an effort to get rid of it

From a positive perspective, having a professional online profile can help potential employers or customers find you and create opportunities to showcase your skills, knowledge, experience, and more.

Professional Brand or Professional Online Presence

Probably, you already have a personal online presence like accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media sites to share your experience, feeling, and life with families and friends. You may not want your potential employers or supervisors to perceive all these activities. It would be better to create separate professionally-focused online profiles for job hunting or career development. Many social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, allow a user to create multiple accounts. Whatever platforms you use to develop your professional brand, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Name: use the name you use in the workplace and use it consistently across all your online presence platforms. 
  • Profile photo: upload a professional photo with your smiling face.
  • Privacy: most social media platforms offer security settings, which allows you to protect your privacy and display the right content to the right people. Regularly review the security settings as these platforms include new security features with the advance of technologies. 
  • Copyrights: if you share the full text of your scholarly publications, make sure you use a proper version compliant with the publisher's copyright policies
  • Keep the content up to date. You are responsible for everything you published, including getting the content there.
  • Ask trustworthy peers to help review the content before publishing.

Personal Website

Personal websites stand you out of other applicants, allow more space to showcase yourself, or document a journal of your life. 

Many platforms are available now for you to build a personal website without any web technical background or coding experience. Here are some example platforms, which are easy to use and some of them offer free templates for you to choose from. They also have subscription options with more advanced features. 

Before you decide which platform to use, you may compare these platforms to see which one fits your needs the best. You can easily find this kind of information online, for example, comparing Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress*, Google Sites Review**, etc. Or you may use Softailed*** to find website building tools. 

You may also want to see some personal website examples**** to inspire yourself. 

Personal Website Applications

Blog Sites

Advantages of Other Web Presence Platforms

  • Twitter
    • develop networks by following people/companies in the target industries
    • participate in discussions via #hashtags
    • Post short updates
  • Instagram
    • share audio-visual content, especially good for people in areas such as design or photography
    • participate in communities loosely via topic #hashtags


Among all the social media platforms, LinkedIn focuses more on professional profiles and establishes your professional brand online.  

  • Showcase your skills and competencies tied to evidence
  • Allow recruiters and potential employers to find you
  • Grow your network by connecting with colleagues, potential collaborators, industry leaders, and target business/organizations 

Network on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, people in your network are called connections. Your network is made up of your 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, and 3rd-degree connections, as well as fellow members of your LinkedIn groups

  • 1st-degree connections - People you're directly connected to because you've accepted their invitation to connect, or they've accepted your invitation. You'll see a 1st-degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. You can contact them by sending a message on LinkedIn*.
  • 2nd-degree connections - People who are connected to your 1st-degree connections. You'll see a 2nd-degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. You can send them an invitation by clicking the Connect button on their profile page, or by contacting them through an InMail**.
  • 3rd-degree connections - People who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. You'll see a 3rd-degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile.
    • If their full first and last names are displayed, you can send them an invitation by clicking Connect.
    • If only the first letter of their last name is displayed, clicking Connect isn't an option but you can contact them through an InMail**.
  • Fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups - People who are considered part of your network because you're members of the same group. The Highlights section of a member profile may display the groups you’re both a part of. You can contact them by sending a message on LinkedIn* or directly through the group.
  • LinkedIn Member (Out of Network) - LinkedIn members who fall outside the categories listed above. Profiles out of your network have limited visibility but you can build your network with other valuable connections to see more profiles. If the option is available, you can also send them an InMail** to introduce yourself.

Grow Your Network

The way how LinkedIn organizes the connections decides that you can grow your network by adding connections and joining groups.

How to search to find people you want to connect with or groups you want to join?

Find People You Want to Connect with

  1. On the LinkedIn homepage, type in "people" or any keywords you want to search in the search box, and hit Enter. LinkedIn displays 3 filters by default: Connections, Locations, and Current companies as follows. screenshot of the people filter
  2. Click All Filters, all the people filters display as follows.screenshot of the all people filters
  3. Check items of your interests and click the blue button Apply on the top right.

Find Groups You Want to Join

  1. On the LinkedIn homepage, enter the group name in the search box, such as "Texas Tech University", and hit Enter. LinkedIn displays 3 categories by default: People, Jobs, and Content. screenshot for search the Texas Tech University group
  2. Click More and select Groups. The search results limited to groups only. Also, many organizations have their own pages on LinkedIn. If you limit the search to Companies or Schools, you can find their sites and follow them to track their updates. 

Some Texas Tech departments, schools, or organizations have set up their groups. Here are some examples you may be interested in joining: