Creating a robust and professional image is a hard thing to do. As online identity and reputation becomes more valuable, focus on profiles that get “maximum bang for the buck.” Take a moment and setup these three, which will help serve as a healthy foundation for your online presence and give you the benefit of showing up in mainstream search engine results.
There are many reasons you have to consider for maintaining a healthy online presence. You may simply want to have easy to find information, you may want to connect with industry peers, or you may simply want to have some reputation insurance in case Google finds some strange tidbit from your past.
If you are unsure of where to start, the following services will provide a fairly strong online presence.
Linkedin is the most established business network. With over 39 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world, Linkedin is the only business network that can currently claim there are executives from all Fortune 500 companies on it. Linkedin also has the most robust networking functionality, keeping many of the personal social networking features off the user interface.
BENEFIT – It is the largest. It has a straight-forward interface. It has many worthwhile services provided for free and doesn’t “break the bank” for a professional account with some extra options.
DISADVANTAGE – The downside of Linkedin is that they sell advertising on profiles types and keyword variations. This means that people viewing my online profile (marketing, social media, business development) are being exposed to ads from competitive professionals and companies.
You can find me here: Barry Hurd on Linkedin.
The newest kid on the profile block. While originally launched back in 2007, Google recently started showing Google Profiles in search results and tying them into other services. Profiles have a HUGE benefit in that they appear in Google search results for your name. No other company can give you this exclusive real estate on the search page. (Highlighted in red at bottom of search image below.)
BENEFIT – It shows up in search results. It allows you to add links to any other web presence you have. This profile also works for services using Google’s friendconnect service (greatly helpful for businesses and developers.) At this point in time, it is clean cut and completely void of any real distractions to people looking for your information.
Another benefit is that it works with all of Google’s other free services: ranging from Google Labs, Google Reader, and Google Adwords/Analytics. This makes it a very simple “home base” for anyone already using Google’s platform.
DISADVANTAGE – Google has a plan. They always do. You can expect to see advertising slapped around this and to see your profile information integrated into dozens of other services in the not too distant future.
Originally a youthful college site, Facebook has grown into a full business portal. As a social portal, Facebook has over 200 million members worldwide.
BENEFIT -Facebook clearly has the largest active network to find other professionals on. It has a great number of niche user groups that are searchable on brand, geography, and user interests. It also has a robust API for businesses that want to develop tools working with Facebook information, ranging from such services as Facebook Connect, to user applications allowing additional information to be relayed.
DISADVANTAGE – Facebook slaps you with advertising wherever and whenever it can. The overall profile page turns non web savvy users into a state of information overload, and the navigation of the site is often nestled within hidden paths that are not user friendly.
You can find me here: Barry Hurd on Facebook.
BEST NEW PROFILE – VisualCV.
While Linkedin, Google, and Facebook all have huge budgets behind them and have established presence… VisualCV has the most professional interface, a clean cut experience, and tons of useful options that inlcude a variety of social media “share this” functions. VisualCV could easily be a destination page for professionals who do not (or cannot) have a website of their own. You can view my profile here: Barry Hurd on VisualCV
BENEFIT – You can have private and public profiles that include nearly any type of information you can think of. This site is also great for professionals on the job hunt, as it features a Print to PDF feature that produces a clean version of what you put online.
DISADVANTAGE – Unlike the other three, VisualCV doesn’t have a substantial social network population attached to it.
I purposely left this article to detail what I feel are the “three best” sites and added my personal new entrant (VisualCV) Since this is such a rapidly changing space, what are your favorites and new entrants for sites allowing you to present a professional online presence?