It’s another Universe out there and you are part of it. I don’t need to use a Quantum physics theory to prove it- there is a Parallel Universe that you live in. It’s the Web and the Social Network. Your online life is measurable and traceable. Every step, every relationship and interaction of your online life is searchable. And I don’t need an FBI warrant for that.
Take the first step and Google (or Bing) your name. That’s exactly what your potential employer, HR department, potential husband or wife will do. In the case of the employer you want your name to return many entries that prove your competency. In case of your lover, husband or wife you want the search to return no love experience- a complete enigma. I never dated before, honey, you are my first and only one.
I will not expand on the personal aspect of your online presence. I believe every one of you heard about the soap opera in the news ‘Desperate Generals’. Even the CIA director couldn’t hide it. Any move you make online can be used against you. There is not much of a personal email or conversation you can have online.
Facebook is not your personal space either. It’s no place for drunken photos. It’s true that you choose your friends on Facebook but your status and photos can be shared from a friend to a friend of your friend. The privacy settings of Facebook change faster than George Clooney’s girlfriends. Even if you master the current privacy settings, they can be changed in the future. Before posting anything ask yourself if somebody can use it against you.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the social network sites can be your stage though. Own the stage! Don’t shy away from it, embrace it, build your own brand.
There are many employers who look at your online presence. If you apply for a sales position at Fry’s Electronics, you need to have at least 25 followers on Twitter. More and more jobs look at your influence online. There are websites that measure that. Klout.com gives you a number of your online presence. Sign up for free at klout.com and check your K number.
Surround yourself with the right crowd. Your friends and followers online speak loudly about your interests and how you spend your time online. If you are in technology- show that you are deep into technology by having hundreds of professional developers and IT people as connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter and influencers on Klout.
Use Twitter. Post 140 character messages on Twitter and reach the World. Twitter is your platform to reach people from everywhere. Be smart and funny and people will retweet your messages. You can be an overnight star and to improve your influence by the thousands. Twitter is open and anybody can read your messages. If you are an expert in some field- post every article you have read- people will follow you to learn more about the news in your field. You can have an overnight success but for most of us it takes time to build our follower base on Twitter. Start as soon as possible and appreciate every follower.
You can give yourself authority online by creating a blog. Write articles about the things you care and know. I want to be seen as an expert in Microsoft technologies so I write a blog about Windows 8 and other technologies. Starting a blog is not expensive or hard. The days are over when you needed a web designer in order to have a website. Go to wordpress.com and start your blog.
Sharing your knowledge has many benefits. You help people and you build your online brand. Answer questions on online forums and link back to your blog. This builds your name as an expert in the field.
Showcase your resume on LinkedIn. From all the social networks, LinkedIn is probably the one that brings the most value for me personally. Post your resume on LinkedIn. Connect and keep in touch with the people you work- it’s your showcase. It takes time to get recommendations but on LinkedIn they stay with you. Ask your boss, co-workers or employees to recommend you. Build your endorsements. We all know our work situation is temporary and every one of us can be laid off without notice. Be prepared because it takes more time than your savings can afford.
Associate yourself with the right network. Sign up for online groups. LinkedIn has a lot of choices.
Everybody can be a leader! Create a professional group online. LinkedIn and MeetUp.com are a great place to start a group and they provide you with the tools.
One last note- if it’s not part of your responsibility at work, don’t use your corporate network or your paid time to work on your online brand. Every keystroke can be traced and every minute of your time can be accounted for.
It sounds like a lot of efforts and time but it’s important you to think about it and plan your online life. None of us have time for every social network site. Choose wisely. Start step by step but keep the big picture on your mind. Your career may need it in the future and even a high online influence, it does however need no missteps. Stay safe and be popular! Build your online brand the way you want your employer or clients to see it.