How to build your digital footprint on the internet.
Many by now heard the phrase “Digital Footprint”. What exactly is a digital footprint and how does it affect my professional future? Wikipedia defines Digital Footprint as “the data trace or trail left by someone’s activity in a digital environment. Digital footprints are the capture in an electronic fashion of memories and moments and are built from the interaction with TV, mobile phone, World Wide Web, Internet, mobile web and other digital devices and sensors.”
Netlingo.com puts it more simply: it is the trail you leave in cyberspace
In fact, EMC has developed a digital footprint software program to determine how many bytes of information you are responsible for since the start of year, based on a series of survey questions:
Be prepared, your number may be higher than the national deficit.
You may not realize this but your digital footprint is not segregated to social network communities. It includes Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Plaxo, Spoke, Flickr, Jigsaw, YouTube, WordPress, Ning, Linkedin, mobile uploads, text messaging, buzz, Google pages, My Yahoo, video uploads and much, much more….
There is a strong probability that this feature article will be fed out to Twitter, WordPress, industry specific blogs and Facebook before many wake up to read it for the first time.
Now that we have re-established that Big Brother is watching everywhere we turn, it is time to discuss how we can turn this around in a positive way to project an image that is a business model for your future professional development. Welcome to the Magical World of Personal Brand Development 101: The tools that will take you to the next level and beyond.
Before providing the tools you will need to survive in the internet jungle, please remember the following safety tips as you board the plane:
a) When developing a marketing strategy and personal brand, keep it simple. Remember that your audience will not know you, so you need to sell the specific skills, accomplishments, achievements and careers that will lay the groundwork for the foundation that is you. Don’t leave an audience guessing who you are.
b) Do not overextend yourself. Be very focused on the communities and social networks you become an “active” member. If you join too many communities you will not be able to do the uptake necessary to maintain your presence.
c) Be creative and continue to reinvent yourself and your skill sets. Don’t wait for a new trend to occur. Challenge yourself and set the trend ahead of the masses.
d) Stay fresh. Don’t get stale. In this day and age, we live in the now. Things are in real time and if you blink, they are gone. Keep yourself fresh and up to date. This part will not be easy, but it can pay handsome dividends.
Now that we got the safety features on this Boeing 787 out of the way, let us clear the runway and head for the clouds. Social Media has created a foundation to create a product, package it, campaign a marketing strategy and ultimately sell it to the highest bidder. That product is you.
1) Create a Google Profile Page. There are a number of search and Metasearch pages available, but currently Google accounts for almost 75% of all global searches. Why not use a profiling tool that was created by the largest search engine in the world. A Google profile page allows you to create a virtual business card that includes options for photos, a profile picture, places you lived, education, special skills, a bio summary and links to direct URL’s that are important to you (Facebook link, Linkedin profile, Twitter Account, Myspace, Plaxo, company website, personal blogs, resume URL, personal references). Once created, a URL business card (with a customizable name) is now at your disposal to share with potential employers as a voluntary means of looking at the complete you (www.google.com/profiles/markalex222).
2) Create a blog. I strongly recommend WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com) for a number of reasons.
They have the best web analytics on the market for monitoring the traffic to your blog.
There is a Linkedin application aligning your WordPress blog directly to your profile page.
WordPress has a real time feed launching your blog updates to Facebook, Twitter and Myspace if you opt for it.
There is a subscription option that allows others to subscribe and receive notification emails when new blogs are published.
One of the safety tips mentioned earlier is staying fresh. A blog does not require a full-time commitment. Some write daily while others only a few times a month. The key is to be seen and heard. Hits equal exposure. As more and more people notice your blog and more importantly return, your reputation professionally will grow and others will be exposed to your words of wisdom. You are not expected to change the world, but to provide a little more insight into the world.
3) Become an active member of your industry community sites and get positive exposure. Many industry or skill specific communities have options to post blogs or white papers and some even feature the standout writing performances that show insight and bring value to the community. Become a member, align yourself with others that could benefit you in the future and get published. If you can do a research piece or write a commentary that others can share with their organizations, you will now have industry specific recognition.
4) Create a video resume. There are hundreds of video sharing sites including Vimeo, YouTube, Myspace, IFilm, Google Video and Buzznet that allow video content distribution. Right now the use of video resumes is a relatively new and radical approach to career transition strategy. Set yourself apart and sell yourself in a video. Do not upload and make readily available for the public. Be selective whom you share it with. Understand the culture of the company and determine if they value creative and unique personalities. This tool in your pocket could become very handy at the right time.
These four recommendations will only be a small part of your digital footprint, but will set you apart from your colleagues that may be sitting back on their laurels and relying on the comfort of routine. You will continue to reinvent yourself as the internet continues to evolve and your name and knowledge breath will glue itself to the digital framework and provide others with the understanding that you are a talented resource and you are here to stay.
Sit back, enjoy the right and once we land be ready to lay your footprint down.