If you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a while,the start of a new year is a great time to begin paying attention to what the rest-of-the-world is reading about you online!
Type your own name into Google and you could be in for a surprise. You may not expect to see anything at all, but the chances are you’ll find something, even if it’s an old work quote or your triathlon time from 2009! Alternatively, you might be disappointed that despite all those tweets and blog posts, you seem to have made very little impression. Whatever you find, the important thing is to know what’s out there.
This isn’t a scare story about online privacy, or a plea for everyone to sign up to Facebook or twitter. Despite what some might say, it’s still perfectly possible to survive in the modern world without spending hours cultivating your on-line profile. But, cultivated or not, so many people are posting so much content it’s becoming increasingly likely that you will have an on-line presence. It’s also becoming increasingly common for future employers, business associates, etc to use google to see what you’ve been up to. Clearly it’s in your interest to know what they’re finding.
It can also be useful to google a few of your friends, associates or competitors, to see how they look online too. Once you know what’s already out there, you can then consider how you’d like things to look in the future. A recent article in Harvard Business Review by Soumitra Dutta ‘What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?’ suggested a number of approaches to managing your online presence, depending on what you’re trying to communicate and to who.
1. Personal and Private-
- Audience – family and friends,
- Message – I want to keep in touch,
- Goals – show how importance your relationships are; strengthen ties; keep up to date with whats happening,
- Network – Facebook.
2. Professional and Private-
- Audience – work colleagues,
- Message – I’m a team player and want to work with you,
- Goals – enhance image at work; collaborate more; be more productive; make the most of colleagues skills,
- Networks – Corporate networks, Yammer etc.
3. Personal and Public-
- Audience – society,
- Message – I have lots of ideas and want to share them,
- Goals – Become known for your ideas; find new outlets for your interests; make the most of others’ ideas and knowledge,
- Networks – blog, YouTube, Twitter.
4. Professional and Public –
- Audience – professional peers,
- Message – I have skills but want to keep improving,
- Goals – build peer recognition; find new opportunities; demonstrate commitment; develop and learn about industry,
- Networks – Linkedin, Twitter and sector-specific communities.
Once you’ve decided on a strategy, it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to make it happen. Building and maintaining an online presence can take up a lot of time, so be clear about what you are looking to achieve and think about ways of measuring your progress, there are planty of analytics tools to help. Think about what you are going to talk about, and remember that you’re in a very public environment, what you say can be quickly spread and can be very difficult to erase. Finally, consider who you link with and invite into your different on-line social circles, if your private and business are likely to overlap you might want to think carefully about what you say and which pictures you post onto Facebook!
Whichever route you choose, or if you choose not to participate at all, make sure you have regular reminders on your calendar to conduct searches. Give yourself a regular google and keep up-to-date with what everyone else is reading about you!