I deleted my Plaxo account today. I don’t think I’ll look back. I only ever logged in to accept connections to people who I was probably already connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook. Recently, I got a message from someone saying they saw my update on Plaxo (I guess it linked from Twitter), and I realized I really didn’t need another place where people could learn about me. Each of these sites takes time and effort to manage, and I want to make sure I control the message that is “me.”
I’ve seen friends get more involved in blogging as a way to have a creative outlet, or a journal of their ideas. I also have friends who are writing books and making movies and see their online personality as being important to their overall success. These friends look to me for ideas. Where online do they need to be? What should they be doing? Why?
Well, when you’re selling something — the goal is to get your visitor to click on the “buy” button. All online activity should drive people to that button. If only life were always that easy. As a professional, well, we’re trying to sell ourselves. The face I put online, is how people will know me. And, either I’ll control that message, or someone else will.
That said, here are the four tools that I’m choosing to represent me, and how I approach using them:
- Facebook. I’m not kidding, if I don’t like you, I won’t connect to you on Facebook. For whatever reason, I view Facebook as more personal, and a place where I want to share more personally. People who see me on Facebook have got to understand, they’re going to be exposed to my very off-beat view of life.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers the fantastic feature of being able to find people within your network, and get introductions. Every professional should be there, and should connect to their friends and colleagues. I’ve taken the habit of writing recommendations for people whom I know well enough to do so, as we connect. Usually, that gets them to write one back for me… and if nothing else, it’s a nice ego boost.
- Twitter. I’ve gotten to meet more people through Twitter than any other venue in my career, and I’m glad to have done so. I like the balance of useful and benign information, it gives context about the person. I follow people to hear what they say, and occassionally just to see if they’re interesting. You’ll get to know what’s on my mind, with a bit of emotion, though I try to keep a mix of mostly professional comments, with some personal ones. I do have Twitter connected to my Facebook status, however, I will often update my Facebook status directly with a personal update that I don’t feel belongs on Twitter. Also, I like my friend Sal’s idea of looking at people’s twitter favorites to get to know more about their personality.
- This here blog. It’s new. I’m having fun. I need to make more time to write, but I’ve been blogging for two years over at Progress, and I like it. I wanted a place to express myself creatively, with personality, and with broader reach (OK, and a sharper edge) than I could on Progress’ site. I hope to write about leadership, the athlete’s mind, and all other sorts of stuff besides technology. I hope it will also serve as a record of my achievements, more than a resume, even an online one could.
Together, these four tools create online-David. Not nearly as good looking, but hopefully as entertaining as the real thing.
And, as for canceling Plaxo. It added nothing to the mix. In the past, it was a good way to act as a hub for all my contacts, updating my address book as people update their contact information. But, that just wasn’t enough. It’s easy enough to find, and more importantly stay in touch with anyone using the tools I’ve chosen above.
Let me leave you with this question for those of you skeptical about the need to control your online persona. What do you think any interviewer will do before setting up an interview? Possibly, before they even make it through your resume?
That’s right. They’re going to google you.
Do you want someone else controlling the message?
PS This post was, in part, inspired by Nick Moscato at Progress during a conversation we had two weeks ago. Thanks Nick! It’s not the first time you’ve inspired me, though perhaps the first time I’ve blogged about it.
Update 25 Mar 2009: There’s a lot of this idea going on… google is your new business card, and your blog is your resume. Check out “Resumes are dead. Social Media is your new Resume” post. Also, there have been quite a few tweets on the topic, a recent one here by Brad, a recruiter.