7.1 Your Place
If you go to dangillmor.com, you’ll find more about me, and by me, than you’re likely to care about. The point is, it’s all there. I’ve made that site my personal home base on the Web. You should consider doing something like it.
Why would you want to do this? Because you need to present yourself online on at least one page or site that you control, where others can check you out—I call it a home base here but on my own page I call it my “anchor site.” The more we participate in online social life, and the more our offline doings are fodder for what others see, capture and say about us, the more we need to give people a way to read our own take on things, unfiltered.
Please note: I’m absolutely not suggesting that you avoid social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Foursquare and any number of other services designed for communication and collaboration. I do advise caution when you use them, but they are now so ingrained into our digital culture that it would be crazy to stay away entirely; besides, you can learn a lot through participation.
I have accounts at all of those and many other sites. I use several of them regularly, notably Twitter, but I make sure that what I say publicly on other sites is reflected on my own home base. This is usually possible, as I’ll explain below, because Twitter and many other services give you a fairly easy way to push what you create using them out to other places.
There two basic ways to create your home base. The easy approach is to make a page, or collection of pages, using a free service. There are any number of sites that provide such services, including Google Sites and Tumblr. You might consider Blogger or WordPress.com, both of which offer profile pages among other parts of their free blogging services, enough for your needs.
Keep in mind, though, that such sites don’t provide these services just to be helpful. Just as with Flickr and YouTube, you’re putting your information into their databases, not yours. And you’re using their names to help promote yours.
The more complex approach, which gives you greater flexibility, safety (in some ways) and authority, is to be your own publisher. I recommend it.
Whichever way you go, what you put on your personal site is the most important thing. Let’s look at that first.
I’m a Brand?
Who we are, at least in a public sense, is the sum of what we do, what we say and what others say about us. You can’t control what others say. However, you can absolutely control what you do and say.
Your presence can take many forms in a social-media world. It can be a Facebook page. It can be Flickr photos or YouTube video uploads. Or Twitter tweets. Or your own blog. Or several of these, and perhaps some of the many other options.
As we’ll discuss in an upcoming chapter, you need to be—today, at least—somewhat careful of what you say and how you say it. But it’s more important that what you say reflects who you actually are, assuming you’re someone the rest of us should respect.
Your personal brand matters a great deal in an era of rapid economic changes, because you may move from job to job, perhaps even creating your own, and even within a single company your career will evolve. A personal brand does not mean notoriety, though some people have made careers of being publicly outrageous. It does mean establishing a reputation, because part of being valuable is being known as more than a reliable cog in a system.