A recent poll found that 30% of people have surfed the net to research people at work or potential business contacts. The reasons varied from simply looking up an address to researching a potential boss or preparing for a business negotiation.
The implications of this statistic are huge for anyone looking to advance their career. If you’re searching for a new job, it’s safe to assume that at least some employers are running an Internet search before they call you. If you’re currently employed, you can bet that some of your employees, peers, and business associates are looking you up online. Do you know what they’re finding? (If not, go do a Google search right now!)
Now, you may think online search results are pretty arbitrary but that’s just not the case. Savvy businesses don’t leave their web presence to chance … so why should you?
Here are just a few reasons why managing your online presence is crucial for career advancement:
- Your employees, peers and superiors will research you online
- Recruiters and HR executives may look you up before deciding to interview you
- Former colleagues may try to find you in order to offer you a great opportunity
- Headhunters may use the Web to find potential candidates for a new vacancy
- Journalists may be looking to interview someone with your expertise
There is little doubt that someone, somewhere will look you up online during the next 12 months. The only question is what will they find, and that’s really up to you.
How I built a positive online presence (and how you can do it too …)
When I started my business, I was an unknown entity in a busy and fragmented industry. I knew that I had to use the Web to start building a viable business. So, I developed a four-step plan to do just that. It has worked exceptionally well for me and it can work just as well for you.
Step 1 – Create Online Profiles:
When I started out, I established profile on several high traffic and high-ranking social networking sites. This meant that when people googled my name, they quickly found me on page one of the results.
What you can do: Set up profiles now! My personal favorites for search engine visibility are:
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com): This site will get you on to page one of Google if you set up a strong profile. But your profile must be keyword rich and also fully complete in order for this to happen.
ZoomInfo: (www.zoominfo.com): Another free site that ranks very highly in search engines. This site pulls from data freely available on the web, so search for yourself before starting. You may find they already have a profile and you can simply claim it and then edit it for accuracy.
Google Profiles: (www.google.com/profiles): This is a no-brainer. Google allows you to create a profile for free and then shows you at the bottom of page one when someone searches for your name. Do it now!
Step 2 – Promote your Profiles:
I included the URL for my website and online profiles everywhere – on my business cards, on brochures, in the signature line of every email I sent. I didn’t tattoo it on my forehead, but did pretty much everything else!
What you can do: You can promote your web portfolio in the same way that I promoted mine. Include the URLs on every resume and cover letter you send out. This will tell employers that you are web savvy and also allow them to learn more about you.
You can also include the URLs in your email signatures.
And once you have a strong online presence, consider adding a line to your letters and emails that says ‘for more information, feel free to google my name.’ This is a very powerful statement because it conveys a great deal of confidence!
Step 3 – Establish yourself as an expert in your field:
I was able to quickly establish a strong online presence just by writing short articles about career advancement and resume writing. I gave them to career-related websites in exchange for a Bio and a link back to the company website. Within 6 months my name was all over Google. My strong web presence now brings other opportunities such as speaking invitations, interviews with journalists and offers to write more articles.
What you can do: Website editors are in constant need of new and fresh content. Most are thrilled to publish articles and will publish a short bio at the end of the article. This is a great way to gain a reputation within your industry. If you don’t like to write, pay someone to put your ideas down on paper. There are many excellent freelance writers who can do this for you. Provided that you write articles about your area of business expertise, you can be sure that potential employers who research you online will receive an immediately favorable impression. (And don’t forget that link back to your web portfolio!)
Step 4 – Start Blogging and/or Tweeting
My blog gave me a great platform to prove that I knew what I was talking about. I was able to quickly establish a reputation as an ‘expert’ and, because blogs naturally rank highly in search engines, I quickly became more visible.
When I started my business in 2003 Twitter didn’t exist, but I couldn’t live without it now. I use it mainly as a way to learn and connect, but it’s also an excellent way to demonstrate expertise – and especially useful for those who don’t like to write. On Twitter, you don’t need to have a blog as long as you link to blog posts or articles that are useful.
What you can do: Blogging is easy to do if you like to write. For as little as an hour or two a week, you can establish yourself as an authority on your chosen subject. Two great options are www.blogger.com and www.wordpress.com. Both are free and easy to use. Once you’ve opened your account and chosen from some design options, you can start typing.
Twitter is even easier. Just join and start connecting with other people.
In both cases, the key thing is to have a strategy. What is your goal for your blog/Twitter page? How do you want people to think of you? I wanted people to see me as an expert on resume writing and job search, so I keep my blog and Twitter page focused on those.
If 30% of people use Google to search for business associates, imagine how many more will do so a year from now. That’s why it is crucial to start establishing yourself online. As my experience shows, anyone can do it with some hard work and a clear plan. Using my four-step strategy, I was able to build over 30,000 references my company on Google within one year. 7 years later, there are 771,000. You can do the same if you work at it.