Recently I was requested by a colleague to contribute an article to our Women’s Network magazine. The article had to be somewhat related to women in technology. Although I have written many articles before this task seemed a lot harder than I thought. I started panicking as the due date approached and past! Missing deadlines makes me very upset and then I realised that I never think of women differently from men and that was the reason why I was having hard time coming up with an article specifically for Women’s Network. So in essence I actually was practicing what Women’s Network preaches about gender diversity and equality. Once I got past this mental hurdle, following article just flowed naturally. Notice that I do give it a tinge of feminine tone, and now you know why?
The Digital YOU
If I ask you when was the last time you checked how you look? It probably was today and just a few hours ago when you looked yourself in the mirror. We all put so much emphasis on how we look, how we dress, what accessories to wear to eventually ensure that we look and come across our very best. However if I ask you the same question with a slight twist, “when was the last time you checked how you look in the digital universe?” Very few of you will be able to give me a good answer!
Digital persona or digital identity is today’s reality. Even if you have not been actively managing your digital persona, you will be surprised as to how much information about YOU exists out there. Just do a simple google search on your name (with variations of your name) and see what comes up. Does anything come up at all? Is it you that shows up in the first ten results? Do you even show up at all? When was the last time you Googled yourself?
Today increasingly more number of people are relying on looking up your digital persona or identity even before you meet them. Perceptions get created based on your digital presence. And this trend is only going to increase with businesses around the world waking up to this gold mine of information. Businesses have already started mining and using this data to do targeted advertising, Recruiters are looking at this data to spot potential candidates and communities have started looking for next set of leaders. Prime example of this is the 2012 US Presidential elections. Obama had 21.7 million twitter followers versus Romney who had meager 1.7 million followers! Here is a good article that talks about how Obama methodically used Social Media to help him win the elections, http://www.europeanbusinessreview.com/?p=1627
So how do you go about building your digital persona? First and foremost, it is important to realize where you currently stand. Doing a simple Google search yourself is a good first step.
Cleaning up your LinkedIn profile and keeping it up to date is a good second step. While doing so also make sure that your profile is complete and that there is a good photo associated with it. Remember in the world of Google search results, visuals matter. So when someone searches on your name, if they get your photo right away, then they are more likely to reach your digital persona correctly. LinkedIn also offers interesting ways to create cross links with your other digital content such as your slideshare presentations, blogs and publications. Doing so increases the likelihood that you will move up in the natural Search Engine Optimization!
Next you should carefully examine your privacy settings on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites also offer fabulous ways to manage your own profile and avatar. Making sure you are paying attention to the security settings ensures that unwanted content will not show up in your search results.
You can further improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) score by doing some tactical things such as writing reviews on amazon and other such web sites. Every time you do so make sure you select your correct digital profile so that it will start to get crawled by the likes of Google.
Last but not least you should deliberately create a digital presence by writing blogs or micro-blogs. It also helps to write articles for on line publications. Speaking at conferences and then blogging about it helps too!
Just like character, it takes time and effort to build digital persona but the returns on the investment are long lasting!
So isn’t it time that you take digital persona seriously? After all you look yourself in the mirror at least three times a day! So why not make a pledge to Google yourself and check your digital self at least once in a while?