Have you tried Googling yourself lately?
If you haven’t – go try now. What did it turn up? Do you show up? I realize it might be harder for some of us than others to get into the first page; if you have a common name such as John Smith, you are most likely out of luck. Also, if you are named after someone famous (any William Shakespeare’s out there?) then chances are you might show up once we get to the thousandth page.
So, what thought have you put into your social presence? Why is it important? How do you do it? I will get into the how tomorrow, but first, lets start with the why.
Why You Need an Online Presence
What did you do last time you had to look something up? Let’s say if I asked you how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, or feet to inches. What if I asked you to tell me the capital or Peru, or the year Wilfrid Laurier University divested its Mathematics department to become Waterloo (fun fact). You would most likely Google it; and that’s what we do with people too. Have you ever had an interview with someone, a meeting, or introduction, and Googled them? It’s a sensible first reaction – you can see what they have out there. Who they are, what they are involved with, and what they are passionate about.
It allows people to discover you. It allows people to see, read about, and share in your achievements. It provides a method for people to contact you, for you to build your own brand.
Your New First Impression
In times gone past, you would wear formal attire, get all prepared, look your sharpest, and go to an interview to do one thing: make a great first impression. In those few seconds when you walk in the room, people would size you up, make several assumptions, and create an impression of you – for better or for worse. That’s changed.
Most of the time, if your interviewed has any chops, they already have built a first impression of you. They have talked to others around you, and they done their research online. You may walk in to the interview wearing a new suit, but they have seen that picture of you naked doing cartwheels down the street. However, it’s not only material that people are looking for online (speaking from experience and talking to several head-hunters) they are looking for something else too: a presence.
Toastmasters and country clubs were the old guards abodes to debate, share ideas, and network. They worked – people knew each other, could see that others were serious, and provided each other help and guidance. The new forum is the internet. Be it Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress, Facebook, or forums and community sites, you need a presence. A presence shows so much more than just the content on those mediums.
It shows that you are:
- An adaptor/adopter: you can adapt to change, learn it, and use it. You can learn to use new tools and systems in a world that is constantly bringing out new platforms on which to operate.
- A thinker: unless you are one of those people who tweet their daily diet, you are putting some thought into what goes out, and that takes time and well… thought. Additionally, based on who your following, they can see your interests, areas of knowledge and your taste in news.
- A sharer: you aren’t concerned with hoarding knowledge as a way to achieve a competitive advantage. You have established others that you share thoughts and insights with, and have created a symbiotic relationship.
So while the content of the different venues says a lot to a viewer, the number of venues you are on is also just as important. Have more friends on facebook than connections on LinkedIn? (Or at least a large multiple spread) I bet I can tell if you take your social life more serious than your professional life. Have a secret passion about media, art, or music? Share it! Start a blog. Going into an interview and saying “I have a passion, here is a printout of 40 different blog posts I have written on my interest in music” is very different then going into an interview and saying “I am really passionate about music, it says so right there on my resume”. (replace music with marketing, sales, technology, finance, etc.) The greatest effect of selling yourself like that is that the interviewer can verify it themselves – it’s online.
So, I encourage everyone to start sharing their thoughts in some way – as long it in no way involves your eating habits, Jersey Shore, or things people say. I will share my thoughts on how you can start up and online presence and how to manage it. Share an original thought, an inspiring quote, or a great read. Create a brand that represents what you want it to – a brand that shows that you are a thinker, an adopter, constantly growing, and constantly learning. Then let others discover it for themselves.