Okay the title sounds trite; but it's just my warped sense of humor. Given the time of day when this is being posted it's definitely warped. (I'm a nightowl and this daytime thing is murder for me).
Well as you may know (or are finding out) employers are fond of "googling" people before offering interviews. (And you thought it was just fun to look up your blind date that way). Unfortunately because of the next generation web users; "googling" someone has almost replaced calling for references. Employers now use what they find on you (or about you) online to gage whether or not you are a worthy candidate.
So it's best to prepare your eBrand and save yourself from countless stress.
eBranding is taking the real you and translating into a virtual you. This is generally done by making sure you create a self-marketing plan prior to going online and signing up for countless social networks.
Try these to help you get started with your eBranding.
1. Create a self-marketing plan. Just as you would need a business plan to start your own company, you'll need a marketing plan before you start your personal branding. Include a mission statement which should detail who you are, what you are "truly" about, why you're here and where you're going. If this isn't enough information for you add what your values are and what you are passionate about.
2. Invest in your own personal URL. If you can get all of the TLDs (Top Level Domains) at once. The reason being someone can easily use your URL and while immitating you do major damage to your credibility. Try Sign Mark Hosting for great packages on domains. They also offer free forwarding and masking (these mean you can have your domain(s) pointing to a webpage located on another host site withough the viewer knowing it). SignMark Hosting also offers a free landing page, or 5 page website and email address when you register for a domain.
3. Get a good picture or have an avatar created that represents you. This is especially important if you are a job seeker. Invest in a good headshot or head and shoulder shot of yourself for posting on all your social networking sites. This way the employer knows you're a real person and not a spam bot or someone looking to upload virus's by setting up phoney sites pretending to be a job seeker. For a cost effective way to get a headshot either have a friend do it for you with a digital camera (if you own one) or visit a one hour photo. They usually have packages for $20 which they will scan and give you a CD of your photos along with your prints. If they charge for the CD then ask a friend with a scanner to scan your prints into their computer and email them to you.
If you don't feel comfortable using a photo, create an avatar. This representation can be used on all of your social networks, blogs, websites, landing pages etc. the same as you would your photo. It's this consistency that creates the brand. You can even use it on your personal business cards much as your would your photo or a logo. Visit The Branding Wizard for website image ideas or avatar packages.
4. Create a landing page. You can use your blog if you'd like. Many blogs have become useful landing pages or you can invest in a reasonable website. Try a free website such as Yola.com or Webs.com. They don't put advertising on their free sites and they have nice templates to use if you are CSS/HTML challenged and you don't want to hire a graphic designer.
Your landing page can either be a teaser leading the viewer to your actual site or you can just turn it into your online resume, complete with your mission statement, your photo, a simple list of your previous employers (make the employer's names a hyperlink to your reference's email instead of the employer's website - just don't forget to inform your references you are doing this otherwise they may delete the inquiry). You will want to include a list of skills or a portfolio of your work (depending on the site functionality). If the site allows for the slide show great! If not turn your "portfolio" into a link to another page that does or a prepared Flickr account containing only your portfolio pieces.
5. Create an Acknowledgment Page. This is a fun page you set up as an attachment to your landing page/website/blog etc. It can be its own independent page and attached to your personal URL (remember you were supposed to get one in step 2). The purpose of this page is to have your peers, managers, clients, people who know your work to visit it and leave comments about you there. (Yes you can remove the ones you don't think are showing you in the best light).
The page is a great way for you to get an ego boost when you're feeling depressed about you last four interviews. You can also direct potential employers to your on line press page instead of offering up references. These references are online for everyone to read about you. Don't forget to set your trackbacks.
6. Join the "correct" social networks. You want to look for networks that are credible, offer resources with status and cater to potential peers and employers you'd like to work with. LinkedIn.com is the leader of this area but you can also have luck with Facebook.com and Twitter.com. Just remember that you are using this for business and not just social. So if you have a lot of crazy friends that post EVERYTHING, I suggest setting up two separate accounts. One so they can post their lives to your wall and the other for business and job seeking use.
7. Get involved and join forums within your social network. Interact with the people on the forums and remember to put your backlink in your signature so others can find your page(s) and this will grow your network.
DO NOT join forums and post simply to plug yourself and your site. It's rude and will get you into trouble since news on the net spreds faster than California wildfires. Be courteous and thank the people who do opt to "follow" you. Strike up conversations with them from your own page or start forums and invite them to take part.
8. Go communal. Have some business cards printed up for yourself SignMark Graphics has great packages on business cards for job seekers). Make sure you include your correct contact information on the front and perhaps a memorable blurb about you or what your expertise is. On the back offer your website, acknowledgment page, or even list the services you can perform.
Don't miss an opportunity to give them out when you meet people. Attend church functions, little league games, classes to improve a skill (or learn a new one), your hairstylist, your manicurist, your barber or join the local chamber of commerce and ask about posting a flyer on their boards to advertise your availability.
9. Go out and see the sky. Job searching is a time consuming process and it can be depressing. But do your due diligence; allow yourself so many hours each day to do your search, update your social networks, answer emails, take part in forums and then shut it down. Working yourself to death trying to find a job isn't going to help your other relationships, ie., your family, children, and friends.
So finish your daily work search, marketing and get up and stretch, play with the pet, go for a walk or visit the library to get a movie. Work and life should always be in balance.