Hiding from the Web is Foolish: 5 Steps to Smarter

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” April 2009 ~
Hiding from the Web is foolish: 5 Steps to Smarter

Mac stillness

mac stillness by shapeshift on Flickr

Today, a story I hope will be your call to action. You may find that you don’t need the advice I offer, but I’m betting you know someone who does, and I’m hoping you will share this.

Remember these snippets? They were in an article I had written here last month called, Communication is our Killer App:

“Build a community of those you love and who love you.”

—Mitch Albom, author of The Five People You Meet in Heaven

To love people, to share your Aloha with them as a community, you have to continually create ways that you can communicate with them. You have to make it easy for those people to communicate with each other too” Ultimately, we learn most from each other.

—Me, here and at Say “Alaka‘i”

“The process of connection is highly proactive. So are most successful people” your network is your net worth.”

—Tim Sanders, author of Love is the Killer App

Please, please take them to heart!

This past Friday afternoon, I discovered that earlier that morning, a very talented young woman had thrown in the towel with the job she had, and walked away. No pink slip; she left on her own, disenchanted and impatient.

I wasn’t that surprised, for I had spent some time chatting with her at a party we both went to a couple of weeks ago. As we found ourselves alone on a bench in our host’s garden, she allowed her job frustration to tumble out and told me that she was thinking of leaving her employer. I didn’t say much and mostly gave her a willing ear, for at the time it seemed she needed someone to just listen to her; she had a lot pent up inside that needed to come out. As we ended the conversation, she’d been wondering if she had enough bravery to try self-employment for a while, for she knew she had the talent required in her field, and it was work she still loved doing, but she lacked confidence with the business modeling of selling herself and was at a loss with how to get started.

So Friday afternoon, my first inclination was to call her and offer some help, for I quickly had thought of a few ideas for her and wanted to do whatever I could to help her get started. My messenger was sure she was not leaving to accept another job. Now that I knew she was free to start something new and exciting my brain was firing on all cylinders and I started to get pretty excited about her prospects and what she could begin to do.

Problem was, I couldn’t get hold of her.

— sent her an email and it got bounced back with no forwarding: She wasn’t in my address book and so I had just guessed at the one she would have had at her old workplace domain.

— tried a couple of guesses with our local Hawai‘i providers and even mac.com. No luck, all bounced back.

— called her workplace, and got the “no longer with us and we cannot release any information” CYA-legal run around.

— looked her up in the phone book, and found she was unlisted.

— searched for her on Google. Nothing.

— searched for her on LinkedIn. Nothing.

— searched for her on Twitter. Nothing.

— last try, I called the host of the party we’d both gone to. On Spring Break vacation with his family, and I could only leave a hopeful voicemail for when he gets back.

At this point I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me?”

In this day of digitally-savvy workplaces, super-connectivity, cool-and-fun social media, and available work at a VERY high premium, are YOU this hard to get hold of when someone is trying to help you?

I understand that people need and want their privacy, but this situation is just plain dumb. Break out of your scaredy-cat shell of web privacy and anonymity, and learn to be okay with getting found. Just get found on your own terms.

Here are a couple of suggestions, and they are for ANYONE, not only managers and leaders:

FIRST ”“ and do this NOW if you need to ”“ be sure you have an email address separate from the one you have at work. I highly recommend GMail; love it because I can access it from any computer on the planet, not just mine. People love it because typing @gmail.com for you is so short and easy. It is features-packed and fun. Maybe best of all is that if it ever goes down it is up again very quickly ”“ who else can afford the techno-geek wizards they have on call 24/7 for us? And did I mention it’s FREE? Learn more at their blog if you must, but all you need to do is sign up and learn it as you use it.

SECOND ”“ click over and sign up for LinkedIn and build a profile there connected to that GMail address you just got. You can keep your email address confidential there if you want to, and people can get hold of you through the program with you having the option of who you want to respond to. Make sure you get to 100% completion with your profile ”“ picture too. You actually lessen your risk of identity theft elsewhere when people have a place to verify your name and your photo. Search for others in your same profession, and study their profiles. Make yours sound better. And did I mention it’s FREE?

THIRD ”“ sign up for Twitter ”“ even if you have absolutely no intention of using it! Twitter is on fire right now, and everyone with an account is using the app to search for other people by name, by profession, and by emerging trend: I do almost daily. Here is an inactive Twitter account that I have parked: AlohaRosa. Refer to it as an example of how you can also just ‘park’ an account for now with your real name and the same picture you put on LinkedIn, with a message like I have there. Mine points people to my primary website because I want to meet them, and am inviting them to start a conversation with me giving them several choices. Using this strategy I’ve outlined so far, you can point to the profile you have just completed on LinkedIn. And did I mention it’s FREE?

FOURTH ”“ go back to LinkedIn and optimize your learning of what is offered there, and begin to use the features offered, such as posting a daily update (just 140 characters, one sentence a day). Invite others to connect with you and begin to build your network. Be upfront about the work you are looking for (work, not just jobs). Start to talk story with people on Answers. Think about joining a group: I have one for Managing with Aloha you can check out, and you can compare your new profile with mine: I am thinking of upgrading mine to a paid program because I am becoming such a fan, but as of this writing you will see just how much you can do for free.

FIFTH ”“ get published. I DON’T mean you have to write a book ”“ keep reading. The most potent search juice you can have today, whether with Google, Yahoo, or any kind of search, is to a blog post, even more than a fancy-shmancy website, because blog platforms keep ‘pinging’ the web when they are updated. Find a blogger you respect and admire because of the community they are creating (you have about 40 choices with The Honolulu Advertiser, and dozens more within our Ho‘ohana Community) and offer to do a guest posting for them on something you feel is a reflection of your beliefs, your values, and your ideas. Reputable bloggers will happily offer you a tagline so people can learn more from you: Ask them to link your article back to your LinkedIn profile. They’ll do it for you and you need not know a single line of HTML code ”“ all they need from you is a short but smart and interesting essay in the body of your new GMail account.

If you write about Alaka‘i management, about ‘Ike loa learning, about Ho‘ohana work or Kākou communication, I have three blogs I can personally offer you, and the people who have been kind enough to recommend me on LinkedIn will tell you I’m a fairly decent coach, editorial manager and publisher.

Please don’t be like the young lady in my story. Get found the smart way. You will be surprised how many people are ready to help you be successful.

Sure, there are jerks, trolls and spammers out in internet land, but they are vastly outnumbered by the good guys, we who are the ladies and gentlemen and Aloha-spirited people of social media today. Understand that you may be resisting the web at your own peril. Why not learn to ‘play offense’ instead of cowering in defense?

Let’s talk story:
I know many of you reading this are already very web-savvy. Do you have more tips to share those just getting started with building a good web presence?

Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.

Postscript: For the cynics out there who have a tendency to wonder about these things, I have no professional association or affiliate programs with GMail, LinkedIn or Twitter. They are great programs, I use them personally and find them both easy to use and effective, and hence I recommend them as a way you can smartly begin to build your web presence.

~ ~ ~

Hc_badge100x50Additional Links:
This Talking Story version of my article is chock full of links: Hover your mouse over them to preview their titles. To get the most out of this article today, I would recommend that you:

  1. Read the article through once without clicking on any links.
  2. Read it a second time clicking only on the links within the 5 Steps to Smarter I am recommending you take with establishing your web presence.
  3. You can come back to this thereafter to read the other articles I offer you as related reading.

Comments

  1. says

    Great advice here Rosa, I’m sure many people will find this useful as they learn how to start connecting on the web.
    I don’t use it much myself any more but Facebook is another worth mentioning – people will look for and find you there, and you can make your profile more or less business like depending on your purpose.

  2. says

    I don’t use Facebook either Joanna, however I know many people who are true fans. My sense of it is that Facebook is good when your interests are more personal or related to connecting with people in academia (it seems to have more alumni associations since started in use on college campuses), however LinkedIn might be a better call for those who want to connect for professional or business reasons.
    It does bring up a good point – choose the apps you will establish an online presence with based on what you hope to have them achieve for you, and who you wish to connect with there: What do most of those you want to network with use? As Stephen Covey would say, “Begin with the end in mind.”

  3. says

    Update:
    Some great comments have come in at the original version of this posting at Say “Alaka‘i” and you might want to click over for a look. The most recent one there is triggering a follow-up post I will publish this Sunday for Koa Kākou.