Somewhere, there is a major disconnect.
On Mashable, Erica Swallow recently wrote a post on creating a personal website that received over 3500 tweets. It was incredible that so many people were interested in this content and shared it with their networks.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the seminar of highly-driven professionals I facilitated last week. When I asked how many people had a personal website, two out of 100 raised their hands.
I suppose there is a perception that if you don’t have your own business, you don’t need a website. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are employed anywhere and intend to be in the future, you need to have a strong online presence depicting a person who is reliable, loyal, smart, and competent, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that something great appears when a potential business contact or hiring manager types your name into Google.
For this reason, it’s a no brainer to purchase your name from a web domain company like GoDaddy.com and create a visually-appealing website that expresses who you are, what you love to do, and why people should care.
Your site might include a professional biography, photo, credentials, work samples, and contact information. You don’t need to spend gobs of money on a professional web designer – simply buying a template online and typing your content into the relevant fields will do the trick. In fact, it only costs a few dollars a year to purchase a domain name and keep a small site running.
Complete LinkedIn profiles are must-haves too, but they don’t produce the same level of impact as sending someone to yourname.com. If someone has already bought your name by the time you read this, try using a middle initial or a nickname (e.g. rickthompson.com instead of richardthompson.com) so that you can create an online home all your own.
Marci Alboher, for instance, does a great job of using a personal website to effectively brand herself. Although Marci currently works full time for Civic Ventures, a nonprofit think tank, her strong online presence complete with opinion pieces and a Twitter stream has her well-positioned for future opportunities and allows readers to get a glimpse of her personality.
There is, of course, an opportunity here to be really creative. In the Mashable article, Erica Swallow features a fantastic online presence by Hagan Blount, which is presented in the form of an infographic and includes quotes, stats, and a skills graph. Using tools like YouTube Annotations, it’s also easy to create a video component to your website that outlines your unique combination of skills and experiences in a compelling way (as PR executive Graeme Anthony does here).
In addition to using your site as a landing page for Google searches, you can proactively drive people to it by commenting on related websites, writing expert articles, engaging in social media channels, and placing your URL in your e-mail signature and on your business cards.
Please just make sure that you are discreet with the information you provide on your site. If you are currently employed, you don’t want to get into hot water by posting confidential company data or anything that suggests you are actively looking for a new job.
Hat tip to Kristine Jubeck, a website designer at Pearl Street Studio who turned me on to the need for this post.