Do you have an Effective Internet Presence?

My friend Ted Demopoulos pinged me recently to let me know about his new ebook, Effective Internet Presence. It’s a free (CC-licensed) PDF download, and worth a read. It’s short (less than 40 pages), highly readable, and contains some really useful ideas.

Without stealing Ted’s thunder – I really do encourage you to take a look at the full book – there were a number of snippets that resonated or made me think. Ted starts out by noting that:

A senior hiring manager at a Fortune 500 company trained all his people how to look up potential employees online last year, going well beyond a simple search engine lookup. The results affect who gets hired and who doesn’t.

People google you all the time. They google you before they meet with you, they google you if they may be working with you, they google you if you’re dating their sister.

These are excellent points. Ted isn’t (just) saying that it is important have a blog, for example – but he made me consider my personal brand across my entire online presence (something that people like Hugh MacLeod also lead me to think about about). Am I consistent? Do I have profiles in the right places? Can people find out who I am?

[ aside: I had a call from a recruiter the other day who had an opportunity for someone with WebSphere skills, and asked me “can you do that?”. I should have just said “go look at andypiper.co.uk” or “google me”. I’ll try to remember to do that next time! ]

If you are thinking about starting a blog or otherwise building an online presence – for example in a social network like Facebook or LinkedIn – Ted suggests avoiding contentious subjects like religion and politics… which is probably a fair point, unless of course you are trying to make a name for yourself as a commentator on one of these topics! Talking of social networks, he covers both of those I’ve just mentioned, noting that he “expect[s] Facebook to become much more search engine friendly, but it doesn’t compare to LinkedIn today for developing a quick Effective Internet Presence”. I’m not so sure that I share his view on Facebook here, I’m not certain that it will open up quite that much; but overall the important point is that “… Facebook is a great networking tool if for nothing else because everyone seems to be on it.”. Absolutely – the same reason I use Twitter rather than Jaiku, and Flickr rather than Picasa, for example.

It’s a quick read and a handy reference to some of the more useful ways to build up an online presence. Read what Ted wrote about it on his blog, and then go take a look!

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9 responses to “Do you have an Effective Internet Presence?

  1. An interesting book – thanks for the link. He makes some points about names which are particularly relevant for me at the moment – about having a unique name (or, at least one which can be found).

    We’ve been thinking about names recently for our second child due next month. And this is part of what we’ve been considering – trying to think of a name which is distinctive enough to stand out. Who knows what search engines will be like in 10 or 20 years and whether the Facebooks or Spocks of the future will have this sorted, but we’ve at least been trying to choose names that could be ‘google-able’ today.

    We’ve also been wondering about the benefits of reserving a domain name. It’s not something that we’ve done for Grace… I’m not sure if hosting your identity in your own privately owned space is still as important as it used to be. Today, the focus seems to be more about putting your identity on the sites where people already look – like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

    Maybe there’s still a need for both… Ted seems to think so – and I guess I’ve certainly got no plans to abandon my own domain name anytime soon.

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  2. Words of wisdom indeed. The shocking thing is that a stack of people just do not realize this is a good way to have an online constant CV and presence and reputation.
    It takes a bit to keep it going and fed and watered.
    I usually tell people just google me or epredator now 🙂 To some that sounds smug, but it just saves a lot of hassle explaining things.

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  3. Domain names are so cheap now, just like oceanfront property was 100 years ago, it makes sense to buy them “just in case”.
    I’m not doing anyuthing with mine yet, but suppose I should at least redirect to my web site

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  4. Funny coincide, this past monday I suddenly got the urge to just-in-case register domains for my kids 🙂

    While I was shopping, I got one for me and a cute one for all of us. Ah! Envy… However, I doubt that I’ll ever use the family one, since I think that I would be breaking their privacy if it were trivial to link my online persona with their future online personas.

    What I did do a very long time ago was to get them nice gmail ids. It was when it was by invite-only and I was successful. It’s nice not having to be xavier_456@gmail.com

    Thanks for the ebook link. Will be checking it for sure.

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  5. I know I should be thinking more about this but I have two trains of thought with this issue. The practical side of me realizes that it’s import to control what your online identity is saying about you. I would love to take some time and really decide how I want to be represented online. I do think of those things, but I’m probably not as proactive about it than most people.

    The realistic side of me realizes that I just don’t have time to keep up with it all. Additionally I worry about representing myself in a way that isn’t true to myself, which is really the most important thing to me. I think unlike a lot of people who use their online identities as a means of escape (and not saying that’s a bad thing), I’m pretty much completely the opposite. My online identity is really an extension of who I am, rather than who I want to be.

    Besides, I have always told myself that if a potential employer wasn’t going to hire me because of something I said online or in my blog then I probably don’t want to be working for them anyway. Maybe that’s an easy justification being a librarian, most librarians tend to be fairly tough defenders of free speech.

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  6. Excellent points, Heidi.
    Actually I find that tracking my online identity isn’t as hard as you might imagine… my RSS reader (endo) automatically created a category of feeds for me which is all about “me” – it contains searches for references to my name, my blog and my photos so I can see where I am being mentioned. It’s quite neat.

    I think it’s fair enough to hold the opinion that an employer should take an all-round view, if you like (and I don’t know whether any potential employer would read every single thing I’ve ever written online, if they were able to find it) but it’s worth being aware of how you present yourself, that’s all.

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  7. I track things using my google reader as well, it does come in handy. I guess my point was more that I don’t obsess over what I’m posting or doing online as much as I should maybe. I also view my blog as more personal than professional. As much as I would love to have a completely professional blog, I don’t think I could actually follow through with that. What I do and who I am are very much intertwined with one another.

    One thing I did think about recently was my Twitter feed. When I applied for a job I did make that private, but only for the duration of the job application process. I guess if I tend to do any real whining about work, it’s probably there. I also went through the privacy section on Facebook and tweaked that a bit too.

    Maybe I do think about it more than I thought I did. I do lean toward the “open is good” philosophy.

    You are completely right though, how you present yourself online is worthy of consideration.

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  8. I don’t obsess over everything I post or put online either, but I do think about it and make of point of putting some things that I think represent me well online.
    Thanks for the plug Andy and everyone for the comments!

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  9. If the searches are opened to the many-fold forums out there, you would be able to form all manner of opinions on individuals – well, if you knew what name they registered as on each site.

    I can/could be found on numerous motorsport-related forums, and have no concerns about potential employees reading what I have posted on those. Others may be more concerned, or even alarmed, to think that their words may be viewed outside of the original forum.

    From an employer’s perspective, there are concerns that in doing such searches, the company may be in breach of some privacy or employment laws. Not that many agency staff would worry about that, but most employers should be cautious.

    For instance, [UK] employers are not allowed to ask about age, race or religion if the answer(s) *may* be used to discriminate against a potential job candidate.

    But on a personal level, a company and job applicant should have some way of finding out about each other, to be sure that they would be a ‘good fit’. Using internet searches should help on that basis. Just using anodyne job adverts and CVs, with politically-correct interview processes, doesn’t ensure that the best or most suitable person will be taken on to fill the job. IMHO.

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