Monday, July 11, 2011

Is it time to loosen up your online profile?

I used to live in a city where the "weather girl," as they called the weather reporter there, must have used a can of hairspray a day. You could tell on especially windy, rainy days, when she did standups outside with everything in the shot moving sideways--except for her hair. Is that what your online profile is like? If so, it may be time to loosen it up.

I've been rethinking my own online profiles now that Google+ has made the Google profile more of a central part of that network--and because it's just time to revise them. I'm now glad I've had a Google profile. It's a real portrait, if you want it to be, more full than any resume and more engaging, and flexes to meet your needs. Adding links to your content is easy, and now, a Google profile will help your search-engine optimization if you publish frequently online, by telling Google that you're connected to the content you  produce:
Google Profile is Google's version of an author page. It's how you present yourself to the web and to Google. Use your profile to manage the information—such as your bio, contact details, and links to other sites by or about you—that people see. When you link your Google Profile to your author pages (or to sites you write for), you're telling Google that all of these pages represent you. If your content appears in search results, your photo (including a link to your Google Profile) can appear next to it. Content you’ve identified as yours will also be listed on the +1 tab of your Google Profile. To easily link to your Google Profile, add the Profile button to your site.
So the smart Googler will create a full profile and link your key content to it, whether you blog casually on Tumblr or publish ebooks, video, podcasts and RSS feeds.

Like many people, my very first online profiles of some years ago were simple cut-and-paste jobs, transfers from the resume. I try to update them regularly, since my "about" page on this blog and my profiles are among the most-viewed of my many online posts--and that's how it should be. I think Twitter and its super-short profiles did the most to help me figure out how to convey personality, quickly, and Google's profile gave me the most flexibility.

This bears repeating: The more time I spend online and in social networks, the more I see the benefits of putting personality into your online profiles. Those aspects of my profile are the ones that help me get new clients and bond with existing ones, provide people conversation openers so we can get acquainted, and show creativity and my voice, even though I'm sight-unseen in person. It lets you suss me out and feel familiar with me before we meet. At least, we can start from somewhere. But if your online profile parrots your resume or holds me at arm's length (hairspray distance?), all those advantages disappear and you're, well, just another resume.

Think of a personality-filled profile as the antidote to all the time we spend online. Whether you're looking for a new job, new clients, new opportunities or new ideas, an online profile that brings you into focus can reach across that sterile online divide and make you a person, not a resume. And isn't that what you want?

By the way, it looks as if Google+ is open to all at this point, but if you can't access it, email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz and I'll extend an invitation to you. You can find my Google profile there, too.

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