When I started my career, having an online presence wasn't high on the list of priorities. However, as I grew my business as a travel guide and expert from an email list, it became apparent that not only is there importance to having an online presence, there was also pressure that changed the way we communicated. I had to build rapport but still be engaging.

Recognizing this helped me learn and grow my career. While there were moments of doubt, I realized communication and knowing yourself became the keys to progress.

Whether on social media like LinkedIn or even a website with your resume and/or portfolio, having an online presence is important for many careers. By having a professional one, you're showing that you care and are serious about any opportunities that come your way. Though it worked for me, many people assume they have to mix their personal and professional presences, but that's not the case.

Here's how you can build a professional online presence that will help you nurture relationships and be reciprocal to opportunities while still maintaining your personal, private life.  

1. Manage your social networks.

Your first step is to make sure that you're not trying to mix your personal life with your professional one. You should always be mindful of what you say and do on the internet, but that doesn't mean you can't have your privacy. Make your personal social media accounts private and create a separate professional profile for each site you want to be active on.

Although you can be active anywhere you want, some industries only use certain social media sites. If you're in the construction industry, you likely won't find much value in having a Tumblr account. On the other hand, Facebook or Instagram might be perfect for you.

2. Take a high-quality professional picture.

Your profile picture is one of the most important factors to consider when you're trying to create a presence and impression that you're proud of. A professional headshot can help.

Hire a professional photographer to take a few headshot pictures for you. If you can't afford a professional, ask one of your loved ones to take a picture of you against a solid color background in good lighting. Don't be afraid to get creative but do stay professional.

3. Start a blog specific to your line of work.

Everyone has an opinion about their industry and are excited to share it with the world. A blog is a good place to start. Yes, there are plenty of articles online already, but there are even more people who don't have a blog or share their professional opinions. Give advice and welcome reader contributions.

By having one, you're differentiating yourself and showing colleagues and potential employers that you're dedicated to what you do. Don't feel like you have to limit yourself either. Incorporating vlog posts and offering exclusive content on a social media network can keep your market interested. Use the tools you have available to be the most engaging.

4. Become a one-of-a-kind expert that your audience didn't know they needed.

The travel industry is a saturated niche. What industry isn't? The truth is, there are a number of people who do what I do, but that doesn't stop me from staying active or sharing my trips with my readers.

The thing that separates me from other travelers is that there's only one me. No one else has my personality, values, beliefs, or experiences. These are unique to me and therefore unique for my audience. 

I've positioned myself as someone who was once terrified of flying but now loves it. To build a connection with people, consider what makes your story unique but relatable. Find your angle and position yourself as an expert in your industry that your audience needs.

5. Stay consistent.

Try to have the same photo wherever your professional presence is living. You also need to stay consistent when posting on your chosen social media sites and blog. Consistently engage on LinkedIn. Depending on where you're at in your career, you might have time to post daily. Set a schedule you can commit to and stick with it.  

Recruiters, potential employers, colleagues, and your audience will notice that you're dedicated and active. By staying consistent, you'll stay fresh. Creating daily content can be a challenge but my team and I have found that opening up channels for your readers to contribute not only helps, but it also stimulates new ideas.

Creating a professional online presence isn't hard, but it requires effort on your part. By staying consistent, separating your personal life from your professional one, and being your audience go-to person, over time you'll have an online presence that'll exceed your initial expectations.