Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Personal Branding: Bringing it all together – tools to aggregate information

If you’ve been following my other posts regarding creating a professional online presence and your own personal brand through social networking, you probably have a number of accounts and profiles. You don’t want to spend all of your time checking and posting information to all of your different social networking sites separately, so I’ll share with you several interesting and fun (and did I mention free?) web or desktop tools that will make your online life easier!
In a previous post I gave you information on how to find scholarships using Twitter ( ). You should also search the Web, using different search engines, including the new Bing ( ); you will come across sites that have frequently updated information. Instead of bookmarking the site and checking it regularly, it’s a good idea to set up RSS feeds. They can keep you up to date with the latest news, sports results, weather, music, or what your friends are doing (Twitter or blogs, for example), by bringing the information to you. If you need more information about what RSS feeds are, and how to set them up using a feed reader or news aggregator, here’s a helpful YouTube video to get you started:

RSS in Plain English:

Twitter can be an important part of your social media life. You might have more than one profile or account, with many people and organizations that you follow and watch, a frequent need to do searches of topics (scholarships!), and of course, your own microblogging activities. Twitter itself is pretty limited, but there are free desktop applications you can download and use. There are two worth checking out:

TweetDeck lets you manage all of your Twitter accounts, stay in contact with Facebook and more. I have Facebook in one column, my personal Twitter account in another, my IntStudentCon Twitter account in yet another. There is a refresh button, but the updates come in automatically. You also have the option of having alerts pop up (much like messenger). You can check on the local trends – what your friends are talking about – and see your favorites (much like bookmarks or favorites). It’s easy to Tweet to multiple accounts, and it will sync with your iPhone if you have one. ( )

Seesmic is very similar to TweetDeck, and is undergoing new updates regularly, so by the time you read this blog and try it out, it will have even more capabilities. Seesmic makes it easy to reply to Facebook and Twitter, sharing text, links, photos and videos all in one screen. ( )

Here’s a current favorite Web site that I’m using to keep track of information of all kinds – PageFlakes ( ). As soon as you set up your account, there is a default tab (page) that brings in default information such as the local weather, national news, video options, music options, and so on. You can create more tabs/pages for different content. On my second tab I have my RSS feeds to the blogs I follow, along with Facebook and my Twitter accounts. On the third tab I have specific Google searches as RSS feeds (you can search for “Scholarships for International Students” and use it as an RSS feed). I always keep my browser open, with the PageFlakes site available 24/hours a day for instant access to all the information I need.

There are so many other Web and desktop tools and applications available – find something that works for you! And if you find or use something that you really like – please share the information by leaving a comment below. (Thanks!)

Very shortly the prime time for applying for scholarships for next spring and next year will be here! My next series of posts will get you ready, and hopefully very competitive – so “RSS” this blog site! ; )

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