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Use online networking tools to hone a professional image.

Niala and I believe that not enough people are spending as much effort making themselves look really good online (in a professional sense). Rather, it seems most people are more concerned with just not looking stupid or making sure they aren't tagged in any embarrassing photos.

And that's where the topic of this week's column comes in. It's copied below for your reading pleasure. And please chime in if you have any suggestions or tips for looking good online.

LOOK GOOD -- PROFESSIONALLY -- ONLINE
BY BRIDGET CAREY AND NIALA BOODHOO

Given the almost weekly headlines of people losing jobs or losing face because of their Facebook profiles, it should be clear that looking bad online is a professional sin you want to avoid.

But we think people tend to put too much effort into not looking stupid online. Instead, why not just put a little bit of work into making yourself look better?

This is important even if you're not job-hunting: You should have the same attitude about how you look online as you do about how you look in the office. Even when you're not interviewing for another job, there's still a standard of dress and attitude about coming to work and being a professional. How you appear online should receive the same kind of attention.

More people are bringing up Bridget's online presence in real-life conversations. Recently, someone she never met before called to pitch a story idea, and said how impressed they were with the way she brands herself online through Twitter and other social networking profiles.

Maybe they were just kissing up. But they still noticed her online presence.

Niala also realized recently that people were Googling her name more. That's because the top search result is a link to her on VisualCV.com, a free site that lets you track who's accessing your resume. From that, Niala could see the spike of Google hits -- sometimes, minutes after she had sent out a tweet, or message, on Twitter.

So, how do you look good professionally? First of all, Google yourself to see what comes up. If a site you don't like comes up, use a site like LinkedIn more often. That way, it will come up as a more prominent search result.

While you're at it, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete, including adding a picture. It's not an online dating site -- you don't need to look attractive, just professional.

Also, see if someone you're close to can provide a recommendation for your page. Make sure to return the favor by recommending another colleague. LinkedIn recommendations are just a few sentences, so it's not that big of a deal.

Do you have good tips on how to look good online? Send us those, or any questions, to Poked@Miamiherald.com or just post a comment.

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We had a guest speak on this topic at my school.
We need to look at social networks as assets to our professional, and admittedly, our social selves. Pages like these reveal far more than anything we can wear and are more personal than enything else we write. These pages offer an opportunity to brand ourselves,and are therefore assets not liabilities or guilty pleasures.

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