I had a dispute with people about frugality and business. Most people seemed to think that if you are successful in what you do you should spend a lot of money on items that can demonstrate your success. Many still think that if you want to make a business deal, get a good job or lucrative consulting contract you need to impress the other side with expensive car, cell phone or laptop.
Photo by Roadsidepictures at Flickr
That’s so outdated. It’s not the cell phone that can impress your potential partners anymore (was that ever really working?). It’s Google* that can do it.
Being A Professional Equals Being Known
Do you know what most potential employees, small business customers or joint venture partners do first after meeting you or talking to you? They open the browser and start “googling” your name or brand. If you think that your well written CV and motivation letter will win you a high paying job, chances are you are mistaken. What matters more is if Google knows who are you.
This tendency is getting stronger and stronger with the time and it’s unlikely to change. Some people like Seth Godin go as far as saying that you don’t need a resume at all. While this thesis is debated and in most cases you’ll still need a resume (at least until most HR-s start “getting it”), the CV is losing its importance. Same is valid for your company’s “About us” page and definitely for your car, watch or cell phone. They won’t close the deal no matter how much they impress.
The situation can be worse. While you want Google to know who you are, you may not want it to know any negative things about you – but you have no chance to avoid that. If you have spammed, scammed, provided bad service or done bad work, Google knows that. So do the people who are looking to do business with you. You can’t delete customer’s or partner’s comment from forums, complains on blogs or even your own inadequate online conduct. Whatever is posted online remains there forever for everyone to see. Sounds scary. Google is the new Big Brother.
How To Raise Your Online Profile
Obviously you will want Google to know about your expertise, your company’s great service or your personal brightness. Being remarkable online helps you stop seeking job, contracts or customers. Instead of that, you get sought from employers, clients or joint-venture partners. Your online profile is far more influential than the size of your office, car or wallet.
If I were you I would work badly to raise my online profile. Here is how?
- Provide good service/products/job. The best way to get recognized as an expert, remarkable or creative is to be an expert, remarkable or creative. If you provide a good job or your business sells great products people will praise you online. Your customers will let each other (and yes, even Google) know how great you are.
- Have a blog I don’t mean “have a personal finance blog” or “have a blog that makes money”. I mean, you need your personal/professional blog, preferably hosted on a domain with your name and showing both your career expertise and personal character. Having your own blog helps those who want to know more about you, about your goals in life and about your style. It gives a human face to you and your company and is a method for very easy and informal communication. If you have a blog, interested customers or employers can easy contact you and can feel connected with you.
If your blog is hosted on a domain with your name (like johnsmith.com), has your name in the title and as “author” of your post, chances are it will appear first in Google when someone searches for your name. This gives you the amazing power to manipulate your online profile directly. People believe the search engines and think the sites which appear on the first page are a lot more authoritative than the others. Just think what does it mean if your blog can be found there.
- Provide value for free. Giving away advice and knowledge, pictures, services or other goods is an excellent way to gain authority and show expertise and good will. The programmers and writers know this very well – that’s why there are so many open source software and free e-books out there. (I know this by personal experience because I got my first programming projects due to the fact I had open source work to show). It’s best if you can both get paid and gain online authority, but if you are just starting in a business or career that’s much harder to happen.
- Participate in communities Forums and social networks are great way to make buzz around you an your business. If you posts are meaningful and valuable people will remember you, your company and your services. For example if you are a landscape designer, giving great landscape related advice for free on forums and other communities will help your online profile in two ways. The other participants in the community will discover how knowledgeable you are. There is a good chance that you or your company will get direct business from them, because they think if you provide such value for free you must be even better if they pay you.
A second advantage of participating in popular communities is that they get ranked well in search engines. If you post with your real name or have it in your signature, that’s one more way for Google to find you.
- Write a book I rank this as one of the most effective ways to raise your online profile. Writing a good book is hard and takes a lot of time, knowledge and patience. Publishing it takes a lot more especially if it is not an e-book. It’s not free and easy like publishing a blog post, so there is a lot less crap within the books than withing the blogs online – and a lot less people write books than those who write blogs. That’s why regardless the internet revolution, a good book remains probably the most powerful tool to show your expertise.
Most books don’t make good money for their authors (if any) directly. But a non-fiction book can drastically increase your chances to get a high paying job, good consulting contracts or more business for your company. If you get your book on Amazon, it will ensure a lot of buzz around you.
The time when you could write fake facts in your resume or “about us” page and make an easy impression are gone. People know how to search online and are not afraid to do it. If you don’t want to stay out of the game, work for your online profile so it can work for you later.
Do you research online for the names of people and companies that you plan to work with?
*I say Google because it’s the most important search engine, but you can put the one that you like most – it’s valid for all of them.