You’re ready to admit that your online presence could use some work. You’re just not standing out from the crowd as well as you’d like.

That’s an important first step. Your next move is to build a solid foundation that can scale with your career.

A lot goes into such a foundation. Today, we’re going to drill down on one particular part of it: your online professional directory listings.

Depending on what you do for a living, you’ll target different directories and emphasize different aspects of your work. But no matter who you are, you’ll need to keep some basic ground rules and core strategies at the forefront. Let’s take a look at six that will serve you well. 

  1. Choose a Recent Headshot (And Update It Often)

We all wish we still looked like our college selves. But we’re older now. Wiser. And our professional pictures need to reflect that reality.

Some of the biggest names in business and philanthropy heed this advance. The LinkedIn profile for Bill Gatesshows a headshot that can’t be more than 10 years old, and is probably more recent than that.

This in spite of the fact that Gates could beg forgiveness for flashing a grin from his early Microsoft days and daring his followers to say something. He knows he’s not that kid anymore, and he’s fine with it.

  1. Highlight Notable Past Achievements, Even If They’re Not Directly Relevant to What You Do Now

It never hurts to remind people how you got here. Just don’t brag about it.A good example: The Crunchbase profile for Steve Streit, founder and lead partner of SWS Venture Capital. These days, Streit is a venture capitalist focused on the fintech space, a specialization that’s clearly detailed on his page.

But Streit makes no secret of the fact that he was the longtime CEO of Green Dot Corporation, a fintech pioneer. That’s a prominent role, for one thing, and also directly relevant to what Streit does today. His work as a fintech VC is more credible because of it.

  1. Distill Your Core Value Proposition Into Four Sentences, Maximum

Your professional “elevator pitch” should be short and sweet. Short and sweet enough to appear in its entirety in reasonably large font on a mobile device’s screen without requiring the user to scroll.

That’s it — that’s the elevator pitch for a killer value prop. Get it done.

  1. Don’t Brag About Your Alma Mater

You graduated from Harvard? Cool. So have hundreds of thousands of others. There’s no need to strut about it. You already benefit from the baked-in privileges associated with elite universities: access to people who can give you jobs, money, recommendations, and on and on. 

  1. Emphasize Key Wins in Each Role 

What should you brag about? Respectfully, of course.

You should brag about the things you achieved in prior roles that your peers (or bosses) didn’t. That might mean clearing an impressive cumulative deal value during your tenure, coordinating the launch of a complex internal initiative, or taking a new product to market as team lead. Your goal here is to set yourself apart and show how you generate value relative to your comparables.

  1. Note Every Board Seat and Charitable Endeavor, No Matter How Small

This is where you show that you’re more than raw ambition in a business suit. Your public-facing professional content should center and lift up your philanthropy and community work, even if that work doesn’t command a great deal of your time. Just showing you care is helpful.

Give Yourself an Edge

You deserve an edge over your competitors — even those you consider friends. Hey, it’s only business.

One of the best ways to give yourself that edge without making yourself persona non grata in your professional circle is to burnish your digital profile. Use the sensible tips and tricks we’ve explored here to elevate your standing and you might be surprised by how many doors open for you.