Everyone should have an online presence
April 15, 2013A few weeks ago I came across a tweet from Davy Kestens, founder and CEO of Twitspark, saying "Job candidates need to have a presence online. If we can't find you online, you don't exist." The moment I saw this, I realized that this is so very true. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that not only job candidates should care about their online presence, but every self-aware person using the internet really should. After all, it has never been easier to do so.
Today, most people actively using the internet are most likely going to be present online somehow. Whether they have a Facebook profile to share their important -and less important- life events, a Twitter account to publish their ideas and opinions, or an Instagram account to capture and share their lifes in pictures, being active on social media automatically makes you being present on the web.
However, being present online is very different from having an online presence. To me, having an online presence means having an online identity that represents a constructed presentation of oneself. It's the (continuous) process of advertising your unique skills and personality on the web in order to set yourself apart from others. It is like a dynamic and interactive portfolio of yourself, expressing who you are, what your are doing and what are the things you believe in.
Social media is definitely part of this, but it should not be the whole story. Being active on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, for instance, allows you to connect to others easily and to engage them, but you can't explicitly express the values you stand for and highlight the unique skills you possess.
Building and managing an online presence can be established in many ways and it all depends on how much time and resources you want to invest in this. In my opinion, everyone should at least have a domain name and associated email address. The domain name is a unique and personal place on the internet that serves as the starting point for anyone that wants to learn about you and wants to get in touch. By linking it to a personal website, a simple blog, or even just an about.me profile page, you can easily express your (online) personality, thoughts and visions. Moreover, it can serve as a central hub bringing together your social media accounts via which people can connect to you.
These days, the effort and cost price to set up a domain name linked to some page are minimal. A domain name only costs a few euros (or dollars) a year and can be acquired in no time. Various websites offer a platform to easily create a customized web page or blog: Tumblr, About.me, Cargo, Squarespace etc. In just a few minutes, you're good to launch your online presence and become represented on the web.
The benefits of having an online presence are numerous. It doesn't only look professional, but each time someone visits your website or blog, you get the chance to explicitly state who you are. It's a unique opportunity to tell and convince people of your personality and skills. It's like a personalized billboard on the internet having a much bigger impact than any offline conversation ever could. Moreover, by being aware of your online identity, you get the change to learn a lot about yourself and the things you are interested in. It enables to organize these thoughts and to share them easily with a much bigger target audience than via any other way.
To me it's clear: everyone should have an online presence. The little cost of a domain name as well as the ease of setting up a simple website or blog makes that there are no excuses to not care about it. Whether you're a university student, a mom with two kids, or just someone actively using the internet, having an online presence is simply essential for a lot of reasons.