Let’s do a quick test. Open a web browser and go to www.google.com. Type your name in the search box and see what the search results are. If you are like the majority of people, you will probably find one or two links featuring you in your old school days, your Facebook account, other people with the same name and that is about it. If that describes you, you probably need a serious revamp of your Internet professional presence.
It is no secret that the Internet nowadays is impacting business around the globe. Opportunities seem to flow easily towards those who have mastered the ins and outs of dealing with this ever-evolving medium. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of professionals, especially in the Middle East, who resist using this amazing tool to maximize their exposure and propel their professional growth. I have trained and coached hundreds of professionals in the Middle East. In every training room, I always observe that more than 50% of the attendees either don’t have a Facebook account, don’t have a website, are not comfortable with posting their photos online, are not aware of massive networking platforms like Linkedin, or any combination of the above. I believe this happens because they are not yet fully aware of how the Internet alone can revolutionize their career.
Gone are the days where people stay in one job for 10, 15 or 20 years. The average person now changes jobs every 2-3 years. This indicates that finding a job will be a more frequent occurrence in most people’s lives. That is why you need to build a strong profile that you can easily update, nurture and share with as many people as possible as you grow your career. The Internet is one of best places to help you achieve just that.
In the Internet age, you are your brand. Brands are no longer kept only for big corporations. You must develop an expertise or specialization in one area and get known for it among your online community. Generalists can simply not survive in today’s digital world because people come to google with specific requests and need very relevant search results. In training for example, it’s rare to find a client googling just “training”. Training clients are more likely to google specific keywords like “project management training in Dubai”. One of the first steps to brand yourself is to own your branded domain name, which means having a website that spells: www.yourname.com. Every time you give people your hotmail, yahoo mail or gmail address, you help expand these brands and deny your own brand the same opportunity.
If you are an employee, your website will serve as your CV. Whilst the CV concept is unlikely to change, the static paper CV as we know it now is almost dead. The first thing that many employers do nowadays when they first come in contact with you is google your name. Your website, Linkedin profile or other Internet presence of you are dynamic ways of representing you. They give others the chance to interact with you, endorse you, validate your work and recommend you to others. Unlike the traditional paper CV which can include a lot of incorrect information, your multi-dimensional Internet presence, which is open 24/7 to the public for cross validation, does not lend itself to many fabrications.
If you own a business, Internet presence is super critical to your success. Statistics show that a whopping 85% of customers search the Internet for whatever they need to purchase before they search anywhere else. In today’s competitive environment, you just cannot afford to lose those 85% to competition and must resolve to meet them where they are searching already.
One last reminder before you jump onto the Internet bandwagon is to realize that there is practically nothing on the Internet that is totally private. That means that you have to closely watch all your interactions via the Internet. And yes, you should also be mindful of your informal conversations and jokes on Facebook because any of them can show up easily in a simple google search and have the potential to enhance or hurt your brand.