Creating, Shaping and Managing your Internet Presence
By Pete Hubbard
What is Internet presence (IP) and why should you care?
Internet presence is user-generated content on the Internet about you and/or your business. For example, you created a web page to showcase your work at a university, or you posted a note to your blog, or you added a topic to a discussion board like Career Development Forums. In most instances, you created that content, or you had someone create it for you. However, since anyone can add content to the Internet about you and your work, you should at least be aware of your IP and monitor it.
Do you have an IP?
Most likely, you have an Internet presence. It is very easy to find out. Just type your name - surrounded by quotes - into your favorite search engine like Google. The results page will list a link and a brief description for each webspace that contains your name. If you get an unexpectedly high number of results, it may mean that someone else has your same name.Narrow your search by adding keywords that are unique to you, or add a negative sign in front of keywords that you do not want to see in the results. Your IP might be a result of a presentation you gave that was promoted online, or your employer's listing of its staff, or a blog, website, or article you authored.
Monitoring your IP
Anyone can create content about you at any time, simply by posting a note to their blog or a discussion board or a website. Therefore, you should periodically repeat your search for your name to see how the results change and determine if you want to do something about it like sending an email to an author and asking him/her to amend something he/she wrote about you that was not accurate. I've saved several different searches in this post on my blog and marked my Outlook calendar to review that post periodically and repeat the searches. Also, consider using Google Alerts to automatically send you notices with links whenever your name is cited on the Internet.
Shaping and Managing your IP
"Digital dirt", according to a CareerJournal.com (WSJ) article by Jared Flesher, is "Unflattering personal information drifting around the Internet". The article says "You may be able to cover up your digital dirt by crowding it out with positive information. ... The more links, the higher the search ranking." Hopefully you won't have any, but if you do, you may want to take action. The more content that you create about you and your work, the better you are able to shape and manage your IP.
Creating your IP
When you create, shape and manage your IP, you will attract people who want your services and products or who share your interests. Your most important client or contact may be the next person who learns about you through your IP. This webpage on NCDA lists the "Benefits ... to getting published in Career Convergence, NCDA's Web Magazine". Most of those same benefits accrue to you when you have an IP.
There are hundreds of Web 2.0 applications like blogs, forums and other webspaces that make it very easy for you to create your content. Sally Gelardin has done an outstanding job of managing hers, as she highlights in this recent post . Ed Colozzi tells a similar story in this post on his blog. Ed was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it was for him to shape his own IP via his blog.
If you don't want your own blog, or to participate in forums, there are other ways you can create your IP and share your work (publications, presentations, etc.). Ask your employer if he/she offers server space where you can upload your work, or search the net for free or low fee sites. Re-read Sally's post for more ideas
Taking control of your IP
There are several Internet applications whose sole purpose is to help you take control of your IP. I'm experimenting with one called claimID. I had had hopes that my claimID account would percolate to the TOP of the 127,000 hits in the results pages when I or anyone does a search for "Pete Hubbard", but another Pete Hubbard (an artist) is taking the spotlight. We'll see how this changes as I produce more content about my work.
"What is interesting about social networking services, web 2.0, social software and the current developments of the web is the sudden transparency of identity, which is leveraged by search engines. Basically, we are to others what the search engines return about us. No doubt that more and more people use search engines to look us all up, whether it is your future employer, your colleagues or potential research partners, they will probably Google you." -- Manage and control your online identity - Claim your ID, by Thomas Ryberg.
Pete Hubbard is the Founder of LifeWork Planning Services, administrator of CD Forums (formerly NCDA Forums), member of four NCDA committees, and Chair of the ACSCI Public Relations committee. Pete received the 2005 NCDA Presidential Recognition Award for his work on NCDA Forums. More info is available at http://lifeworkps.com/hubbard/weblog/1865.html or by emailing Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org