5 Easy Steps to Own Your Online Footprint

This post is featured in Personal Branding MagazineToday, having a personal brand online is more important than ever. Resumes are being replaced with blogs. Your personal references are being trumped by your online footprint. Here are five things we can do to build an online presence.

1. Get your own domain.

Grab a domain that resembles your name and put a site there. Most hosts have one-click WordPress installs, and you can have a branded site or blog set up and running in several hours. Even if you have no plans to create your own blog, install a WordPress theme that aggregates your existing social profiles to have one place for all your information. (Think of it like a branded flavors.me.)

2. Get a branded e-mail address.

After getting a domain, it is extremely easy to use Gmail and have a hosted e-mail address (me@mydomain.com). Even if that isn’t an option, you can secure a Gmail address that includes some combination of your name or initials. This is important when you’re exchanging info, sending resumes or using your e-mail address professionally. While it is great to know that you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, telling a potential employer that your e-mail is hogwartz4life@hotmail.com might not be the professional image you’re trying to represent.

3. Secure social media profiles.

While you may not have plans to use Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, these sites have huge influence on search engines and might outrank your own domain. Having your name locked down in multiple places can help people find you and secure your space on the Web if you ever choose to use it. Use knowem.com to find all the places your name is available to register with the ones you plan to use or want to have a presence on.

4. Create an online footprint.

When I interview a candidate for a position that has anything to do with branding or online marketing, I set their resume to the side during an interview. I always start with one question: “Can you walk me through your online footprint?” For me, my blog is my hub. From there you can read my ramblings on marketing, branding and design but branch out to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even Flavors.me for more social networks. I share my posts on Twitter and Facebook but try to pull most of the conversation online at chris-moody.com. Walking an interviewer through that footprint is much more powerful than going over bullets on a resume. Map out what networks you plan to use and how they feed each other and practice communicating that.

5. Build and engage your network.

Use Twitter to search for folks with similar interests and watch who they’re talking to, what they’re talking about and find ways to add value to the conversation. Building relationships within your social and professional circles will help you build expertise and connections. This alone has led to numerous hiring and business development opportunities.