The headlines read:
LINKEDIN SNUBS 400M+ USERS
Today, LinkedIn announced they will only allow paid subscribers access to their accounts infuriating their 400 million loyal customers…
No, I am not an alarmist, conspiracy theorist or extremist. I am a realist. It is conceivable, given the observable trends from other social networks (Ning, for example) and LinkedIn’s history of quickly and quietly eliminating some of their features (read about elimination of Events and Answers) and the regular incremental decrease in our ability to do what we used to be able to do as a user of their free services. (By the way, that headline is not real)
My point is, when you build your online reputation using a single product, such as LinkedIn, as powerful and wonderful as it is now, things can change. This could leave you vulnerable or without the ability to control and manage your online presence. That may be exactly what LinkedIn is hoping if they ever decide to change their model to one where full access is given only to paid subscribers. It isn’t inconceivable.
Own Your Domain
There is only one sure way to protect your investment. Own your domain. It is a small price to pay to ensure you have control over what people find first online. Go to a domain registrar, such as 1&1 or Godaddy or one LifeHacker lists as a Top 5 in this post.
Your goal would be to obtain your name or any version of your name available. While .com has been the standard and most sought-after, it is also more expensive and really, who enters a website name into the address bar? Don’t you enter it into the search engine? If you can’t get a .com, why not get a .net? (I’m kinda partial to .net myself!) For an individual, it’s more important to have a place online (a site) that you own and control than worrying about getting .com! Once you have this piece of digital real estate, you would link to this site from your email, include it on your personal business card, and add it to your resume; just like you are doing now with your LinkedIn profile URL.
Another part of the solution is diversifying your online investment. Test new tools and platforms. You may not always be active, but you’ve staked your claim and have your name reserved. There are a couple of tools to help you see if your name is available across multiple social networks. Namechk and KnowEm.
Putting content on your page may seem overwhelming. You don’t have to build a website from scratch. Why not link a Wordpress site to your domain? Or maybe you can demonstrate your social prowess with a Flavors.me page linked to your domain name. You could also use a content aggregator such as Twylah or Rebelmouse to summarize what you say and share online. These are free tools that create a summary of online content (articles and images) and looks very much like a newspaper. You specify what you want pulled into the summaries. You can learn more about them and see what they look like in my post about creating a summary of stuff you share.
Long Term Strategy
Owning digital terrain and building an online presence is a long-term strategy. It isn’t a quick fix nor should you abandon it once you start. If you are serious about managing your career and your online reputation, I hope you’ll consider some of the advice here.
Did this ruffle your feathers? Am I off base? Or do you agree? Leave a comment!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.