Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Your face beyond Facebook: Self-Marketing Part I

In the sales field of any industry, be it real estate, cars, retail or wholesale, the sales person must sell themselves in addition to the product. Their manner, their appearance, their skills, and how interesting and engaging they are in conversation all count a great deal. This is why golf courses exist: first hand interaction and getting to know your employees and partners better. You probably won’t get an invitation to go play golf after a brief networking/information session or an introduction through an acquaintance. That doesn’t mean that potential contacts can’t get to know you. Some may reach far to find out more about you. Reach back!

Since they will be checking their e-mail anyways, they may as well Google your name. What comes up is up to you and you have a significant amount of influence.
The internet is a very powerful tool for positive self-promotion. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Join organizations

Alright, you want positive associations to your name online. This means you have to be proactive. Join organizations that you are really passionate about. Remember, quality over quantity. I’m very much into the Bright Ideas Group but not much else.

Incidentally, if you search my name on Google, I come up as an artist on ArtNet (which I’m not – the other Ms. Ivleva does some great paintings and I don’t mind) and me in all the other sites on the first page.

This is one of her paintings. Olga's watercolours are lovely.

Contributing to an online publication is another great way to increase your web presence. Schulich’s Insider Media Group publishes articles online as well as in print. All the writers’ names are searchable along with their articles. Remember not to just join any organization: really spend time choosing one or two you can make a certain contribution to and focus strongly on those.

These organizations are likely to already have their own websites and when you start your own – and you are going to have to start your own – you can link to those websites to build an even stronger network.

Need to know basis

Facebook may seem like a great place to meet people but it’s also notorious for the potential to burn people’s characters. You and your friend’s albums may be littered with photographs of keg stands, mud wrestling matches and displays of your superhuman ability to, ahem, “roll.” You know who you are.

This photo, albeit illustrating some sort of athletic ability, does not scream "hire me!"

Some people, even recruiters, may think this all makes you a pretty fun person. Not so much in terms of an employee, especially if the company’s clients can also access this material. At a recent seminar of the Undergraduate Consulting Club, an MBA intern at the Boston Consulting Group emphasized that the interview never really ends and job hopefuls are even (candidly) evaluated for their manners and ability to hold conversation at dinner. This is certainly also true for your online persona.

Here are some steps to minimize your risk from Facebook exposure:

You may not need to delete your Facebook account. After all, what you
do in your spare time is your business. I strongly recommend making your account visible to only your friends, including your display picture.

A fun night, yes. A good display picture when looking for work, not exactly.

This one is too often overlooked. Search yourself on YouTube and GoogleVideo to ensure that your last nude dive into the pool at the summer’s party didn’t make it to public portals. A friend (or say, the BBC) might have caught you in some questionable activities when you didn’t know that the cameras were rolling. Case in point.

I met Devang Asher, a self-promotions extraordinaire, in Hindi class last year. He says he started his website because it is incredibly important to buy your domain name as everyone will be a brand in the near future. With the wide-spread ability to reach millions of people at a click of a button, you can easily capitalize on your own brand name. If you want to reach more people with fewer slashes on your business card, your own domain name is the best way to go. is significantly easier than

I’m going to provide more tips on what to include on your website in tomorrow’s post. I figured I’d give you some time to take those photos off Facebook first.

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