Thursday, May 5, 2011

Critical Content: Your Online Profiles

Flickr - IDream_in_Infrared (creative commons licensed)
Perhaps the most important content you can create today is you.

That's right. You've got to represent yourself -- that is, if you want to be taken seriously in the digital age. You can either not attend to this, and let people find what they will when they search for you online (and believe me, they will!); or, you can manage your online identity and build it into something that creates real opportunities.

So, start with managing your online profiles.

An online profile is a place where you can formally introduce who you are, what you do, your interests, social connections, and content streams. I suggest managing at least three such profiles, beginning with those that will be most visible and useful -- profiles on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and your blog profile:

My Google Profile

  • Google Profile
    On your Google profile, add photos or set up any of your other content streams. A Google profile may not seem that important to you, but if somebody Googles you (and believe me, they will), guess what ends up highest on search results? So represent yourself where you will be found.
My Facebook Profile
  • Facebook Profile
    A Facebook profile has the disadvantage of having limited public information. However, it has the advantage of being tightly tied in to your social graph (at least within the most prominent social network; there are others). Spend time filling in additional details (history, interests, etc.). This changes what advertisements you see and how people find you. 
My LinkedIn Profile
  • LinkedIn profile
    LinkedIn is like an online resume where you can show the world where you've worked or studied and what you've been involved in. Don't save this until you are actually on a job hunt. Add info about yourself, and also spend time creating connections. Want to know some excellent content to create? Create a recommendation for someone else. It builds goodwill and good karma, and gets you thinking about how others will refer to you. (The screenshot is a recommendation I just gave for a great prior student)
A recommendation I recently made on LinkedIn

My blogger profile
  • Your Blog Profile
    If you do maintain a blog, it is a major way of creating your identity by demonstrating your voice, personality, and interests. In a way, every post, every widget, your design -- everything about your blog says something about you. But the most explicit statement that you make about yourself is in your blog profile. I highly recommend that you make your profile visible on your blog, and that you include a picture of yourself. Because this profile will appear as a small widget, you've got to be careful not to say too much (or to use a picture that doesn't clearly show your face). 

There are lots more places and ways to create content (which I will post on later). Remember that once you start setting up other content streams, that you feed them back into your profiles, and (selectively) back into your blog(s). More on that later.

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