Build your online presence in 7 easy steps

Posted on December 11, 2009

The first thing anyone will do before meeting you is to do an online search on your name. This is commonly referred to as Googling, named after that famous company. Whether you’re searching for a job, networking to meet new people, or trying to build your business, be proactive in building a positive online presence.

There are so many websites out there, it’s overwhelming to figure where to start. Here are some tips to get you moving.

    1. Do an online search for your name and see what comes up.
    Do this search in all the major search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing.

    2. Set up Google alerts.Google will send you an email whenever your name is mentioned.

    3. Define how you want to be perceived.
    You may have different personas, depending on whether this if for personal or professional use. A word of caution here: don’t get too personal because it may come back to haunt you. What was a fun college outing in Cancun, showing you in a bikini and with a drink in your hand, may not go over very well with a recruiter or a potential client. Make sure your profiles fit your goals, i.e. if you are positioning yourself as a marketing expert, make sure your profile reflects this.

    4. Have a professional email address.
    Lose the Hotmail or AOL address. Hotmail screams spammer and AOL screams baby boomer who is not up on technology. There are plenty of free email providers out there; sign-up for a gmail or a yahoo account. Use your name, if available and stay away from ‘cute’ addresses like

    5. Focus on one or two sites at first.
    Facebook and LinkedIn are good places to start. Facebook is less formal and allows you to share more of your personal life. But there is such a thing as too much information. Be mindful of what you share. LinkedIn is more formal and is geared toward your professional background.

    6. Browse the Help and Getting Started Sections of the sites.
    The Help and Getting Started sections can show you steps on how to set up your profile. Spend time persuing the sites to see what features are available. Also, look at other people’s profiles to get a sense of what to include or not include.

    7. Ask friends and colleagues for feedback on your profiles.
    Asking your contacts for advice is a great way to reach out to them. Most people love to help and give feedback.

This is just the beginning. As you become more comfortable being online, you can further your online presence by adding a blog or a Twitter account. Don’t forget to keep your profile up-to-date, as your circumstances change or as you get more experience.