Let’s start with an inventory:
● Linkedin – Must have for a job seeker, this is the key location for defining your “Brand”. It is a hub for business contacts and activities built around that brand.
● Facebook – Might be very important for a job seeker about half a step down from Linkedin. Primarily set up to connect people with each other on a personal level. With that in mind, it still needs to reflect your brand. Can be a huge time suck and there are privacy and security issues.
● Twitter – Optional. It is an “in-real-time” communications tool that can extend your network while making it much more responsive. It can also be an amazing time suck.
● Blog – Optional. Works great if you have ideas that are relevant to your brand, but can kill you if you drift.
● Biznik – Useful if you are an independent contractor looking at getting some level of b2b stuff going.
● “MyPersonalDomain” Whatever you choose this to be, from a web page to a blog to some kind of store.
● Geolocation sites like Foursquare or Gowalla: These provide physical location information with the goal of connecting people in a location. There are specific situations where these can be useful, but they come with additional cautions
● Etc. – there are a huge number of other tools that fall under this category from MySpace to Picasa to Yelp to Meetup. Any one of these can provide value and that value will vary on an almost infinite array of things. The challenge with some of these (think MySpace) is that you create a permanent presence with them whether you intend it or not. That Frat Party you went to in the 90s and that you friends posted on MySpace? It’s still out there.
I’m sure I’m missing a ton of stuff, but even if I knew what they all were, as of May 2011, this is a great list to start with.
There are also some principles that need to be implemented across your internet profile:
● As much as possible, create one consistent brand. So use the same picture for every profile you own, represent yourself as the same person with the same skills in every profile.
● Be prudent. If you are looking for a job as the Pastor of a church, work as hard as you can to eliminate the pictures of you at the Atheist Convention.
● Be safe, or at least try. Control your permissions on all of these tools, organize your contacts/friends into relevant groups. The Rugby Team and the Rose Garden Club will probably not understand each other or how you could belong to both, so keep them separate.
● Set up your public profile to reinforce itself from every window. If you claim to be a “Team Builder” in Linkedin, then your Facebook should feature people beyond yourself.
In very general terms each has a primary purpose (in the context of job search), so what are they?
● Linkedin is central. Define your brand here, get a good picture that you recognize, fill out a complete profile. Focus of your contacts is business connections, but the line is not rigid.
● Facebook, this is almost as important, but the focus is more towards family and friends. Use the same picture as Linkedin and consider your brand as you build out your network and fill out your profile. Be respectful of your contacts when playing the various games. Don’t spam; accidentally or on purpose!
● Twitter, use the same consideration when creating your profile, but then remember that this is a real time communication tool. While Linkedin and Facebook are fundamentally static, there is nothing static about Twitter. This provides extraordinary resources for researching companies, opportunities and people in real time.
A key to understanding these resources is understanding that we really have only one network, and while we categorize it for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways, there is far more overlap than separation, so we need to treat it with that in mind. The tools we have today for the organizing our network and mining information about it are truly amazing. So far beyond what we’ve ever had, but the central fact remains that “Network” is still just a fancy word describing our circle of friends.
By the way, Consumer Reports published a terrific article on how to effectively stay safe in their June 2011 issue. It should be read by pretty much everyone that spends time online.