Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Importance of a Professional Web Presence (Personal Branding)

Creating an online presence or identity on the Web is not really a choice anymore, but has almost become a necessity in today's world. Also referred to as personal branding, it is important for anyone who is applying for college or scholarships, searching for internships or jobs, or building their career. More and more, employers, colleges, and recruiters research prospective candidates online to get more information about them before an interview is scheduled or an offer is extended. This can work against you if your current profile isn’t as professional as it should be (read my blog “Social Networks – how they can impact your scholarship, internship, or job opportunity”; or it can work for you.

Personal branding is the way you market or project yourself to the world; it is how other people perceive you, and how they might choose to interact with you. A brand is an opportunity for you to differentiate, or stand out from everyone else; building a strong and professional personal brand can create possibilities and opportunities for success in your life (personal as well as professional). Your personal brand is very dynamic – it changes and evolves, as you do. To build and maintain your brand, there are Web 2.0 tools (social media and social networking) to help you.

Although sometimes used interchangeably, there are differentiating characteristics of social media and social networks. Social media is a means of connecting with digital information; examples would include wikis, blogs, microblogs (Twitter), social bookmarking (Delicious), social news sites (Digg), and social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn). Social networking is also connecting with information, but more importantly, connecting with people for the purpose of social interaction. Bottom line - both are important in helping you create your personal brand.

Creating your personal brand will take time and effort. In my next post, we’ll get started!  Future posts: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging.

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