From something to nothing
I came to the UK two years’ ago. Before coming here, I had taught in two good Commonwealth Universities. I published articles in journals. And as a work & organizational psychologist, I had consulted to household-name multi-nationals.
I worked on major projects that many psychologists would give their right-arm for. I led the post-graduate training of occupational psychologists in one country for over a decade. I represented us at international forums and negotiated inter-country agreements. I taught on an MBA ,and I taught a huge class of first year class of 850 students. An experience, indeed!
But when I came to the UK, only a few people knew me. I had little name-recognition. Without an university affiiliation, Google no longer recognized my name, and no longer put me at the top of its page.
In short, without institutional affiliation I went from being central and prominent to invisible. Overnight, other psychologists didn’t see me. Clients didn’t know me. Google didn’t tip its hat when I typed my own name.
Back from nothing to something
Over the last two years, I’ve rebuilt my profile. I’ve become known, well-known, in foreign land. When I type my name into search, Google returns my Linkedin profile and my blog. At the top, of the first page.
- Yay! Google no longer minds that I don’t work at a University.
- Yay! I rank higher than Jo Jordan, the power weight lifter (sorry Jo, but Google rankings are competitive).
- Yay! I rank higher than all the other Jo Jordan’s out there – psychologists, academics and management consultants. And believe me there are a lot of us with this very common name.
How did I do this? How did I go from nothing to something in two years?
Believe me getting recognition in a place as big and crowded as the UK is hard. I can put the names of leading British psychologists into Google and struggle to find them.
Where are they? Page 56? Page 87? Academics come up because Google privileges University urls – did you know that? Many people don’t. Until they leave the university sector and they drop off the internet as it they have never existed at all.
This is how I re-built a solid online profile. I used social media.
Social media is the two-way, readwrite web. Most of us know Facebook and Twitter. These are the two best known ‘social networks’, or ‘platforms’ in the UK
Some people dismiss these platforms as trivial socializing. Trivial socializing, if socializing is trivial, does happen on these networks. But that is not why they are important for managing our careers. Nor are they the whole story. Not by a long shot.
The two-way web is a place where we can relate directly to each other, without going through a third party. And it is an opportunity to use virtual space to expand our world, just as the penny post and the telephone did when they were first invented.
‘Social’ means the opportunity to interact. This is the central idea. The opportunity to interact. can talk to you and you can talk back. When you talk to me, I can reply.
We meet people fast on the two-way web. As psychologists we know that when we meet people. we get feedback. And when we get feedback, we develop really fast. We develop our thinking quickly. We develop our relationships quickly.
And then our professional practice begins to take shape around what is ‘good and true, better and possible’. It takes shape in ways we would never have dreamed possible, and at speeds we would never hope for in our wildest dreams.
5 common social media tools help us build our professional profile
In the two years that I have been settling successfully in the UK, social media has developed with dazzling speed. Some of the platforms and techniques I used 2 years ago are outmoded now, and some of the techniques I use now were not popular 2 years ago.
These are the 5 that I recommend that you use at October 2009. I’ll keep it brief to get you started and hold the nuances for other posts.
1 Keep your CV uptodate on Linkedin and the European equivalent Xing
You’ll get established quite well using the free version of Linkedin . By all means, connect with me, Jo Jordan, to get started.
2 Blog under your own name
Set up a blog and start writing. WordPress, Blogspot, Posterous, and Tumblr are all free.
Remember, though, you are writing to be heard. Don’t say anything silly. Do write about professional matters that interest you.
Also set up your About page. There is no point in being anonymous when you are developing a profile. When your blog is set up, let me know and I’ll be your first reader.
Don’t agonize. Pick one of the four services and begin. The marvel of these services is that it is easy to change things.
3 Read and comment on other people’s blogs
To find good blogs, set up a Google Alert using keywords that interest you. Then make a folder for these Alerts in your email. There will be a lot of Alerts.
Everyday, scan the headlines and visit the blogs that interest you.
And now for the social media component: leave useful, helpful comments.
When you comment, you leave your full name, your email address (that won’t be shown) and your blog name Far from being alarmed, be happy. You email address protects the blog owner. You benefit in 4 ways:
- By writing down your comment, your clarify your own thinking.
- You make a friend of the blogger who likes to get replies.
- Anyone who visits that blog and thinks your comment interesting will click on your name and visit your blog.
- Google notices the link between your blogs and puts a tick against both. Google likes sociable people! The more ticks you have, the higher up you come when someone puts a relevant keyword into Google Search. Get found by getting sociable!
4 Organize your feeds
In the last step, you set up Google Alerts and found interesting blogs. Now you have found other people in your field, you want to visit them often.
To save yourself time, you subscribe to their RSS feed and receive a message everytime those blogs update.
Fortunately these don’t go to email – or don’t need to. You store all your feeds in a feed aggregator. Most people use the Google feed reader. I use Pageflakes. It has become a little unstable since it was bought out but it has a great advantage from my point of view.
I organize my feeds as ‘flakes’ into ‘pages’. Each flake has the headlines of 5 to 20 of the latest posts from the blog (my choice). I have a page for Morning, another for UK, another for Further, another for Evening, another for Sunday. You can see where I am going with this: attention management. I don’t want interesting articles to catch my eye when I have more mundane work to do on my desk!
5 Yahoo Upcoming and Meetup
And finally, for the biggie. Sign up to Yahoo Upcoming, put in you postal code, and sign up to events that seem worthwhile. You can RSVP positively, or “watch”.
Go back regularly and always check whether any event that you are going to anyway has been posted here.
Because you see who else is going. And that is not all. You can check what else they are going to.
No, you are not going to stalk them. But when you find someone whose does interesting work, you see what other events they go to. That is how you find your way around cluttered, crowded UK!
This is how you find out where the interesting work gets done. This is how you find out where business gets done.
The mainstream media covers the big events – the anonymous events, the too-big-to-meet-anyone fairs. We use the self-connecting character of 2.0 to find our niche.
You can also sign up to another service, Meetup. I find Meetup organizers spam a little. Tolerate some junk mail to get started. Then cut them off. Once you are moving in productive interesting circles, you will work ‘on spec’ less but you;ll still come back here to relook at your horizons from time to time.
And now to the social networks: Facebook and Twitter
You’ll haved notice that I haven’t mentioned Facebook and Twitter. They are important too because they are the most popular networks in UK. Join up!
Try to choose names that are short, memorable and easy to spell. On Twitter, do NOT protect your updates. And join in! If you follow me @jobucks, I’ll introduce you to get you started.
On Facebook, connect with all your relatives and friends. DO protect yourself there. Or rather, protect your relatives because anyone coming to you sees a lot about you relatives as well. Later, we’ll tell you how to set up a Facebook ‘page’ for your professional practice. Begin now by meeting your friends and relatives there.
The 7 basics of professional networking in virtual space
So those are 7 things to get you started.
1. Your resume/CV on Linkedin and Xing
2. A blog
5. Yahoo Upcoming and Meetup
7. Facebook for your personal network.
Meet you in virtual space – and watch your professional practice metamorphize from caterpillar to butterfly