Your virtual business card

2009 April 7
by Steven R Jones

Ever find yourself without your business cards?

Here’s a simple but effective idea to help you while networking: the virtual business card.  I got this from my good friend Griffin Caprio who frequently turns me on to smart things. There is really no detailed description required for a site like this. Go grab a good URL for yourself and set up a simple web page like this:

imetjones.com screenshot

Then, even when you don’t have business cards handy, you can give your new contact a simple URL that helps them find you later. My own virtual busines card is IMetJones.com and contains most of the same information you would find on my paper business card – of course the links are live so it makes it even easier to direct people to my other online profiles at LinkedIn and Facebook, for example (see previous post).

Special thanks to J. Matthew Buchanan at The BIPO Blog for sharing this through a Creative Commons license.

Revisiting the personal brand

2009 April 3
by Steven R Jones

I have been negligent in keeping up with my personal brand. I could try to blame it on having had to focus on starting our most recent company, Capable Networks, but that’s not being entirely truthful. Back in 2000, I started a home grown branding site that aggregated my activity across companies and invested a lot of time into keeping that current.

Here’s what that site looked like back in the day, kinda cheesy by today’s standards but we didn’t have LinkedIn or Facebook to guide us. “Surje” was a play on my initials: SRJ.

Surje.com siteMy goals for a personal site were straightforward:

  • - An outlet for expression
  • - A vehicle for exposure
  • - A means for financial gain
  • - A platform for experimentation

Despite being able to capture and aggregate my accomplishments, artifacts, and testimonials on Surje.com, there didn’t seem to be convenient or regular opportunities to direct other people there as the concept of a personal branding site was still quite novel.

Fast forward almost 10 years and that problem has all but vanished. These days, it is quite common to Google a new name before you engage in any serious discussion. So, like many other professionals looking to build a personal brand, I am now simultaneously investing in LinkedIn, Facebook, and a custom site like this one. After sifting through a number of similar options, I have determined that at least these three vehicles are required for the modern tech professional.

1. Build your complete LinkedIn profile - LinkedIn has become the default source for online resumes.  It may not offer complete flexibility for every individual but what the site does provide is an apples-to-apples context for sizing up new contacts. I’m not going to vouch for every LinkedIn tool or feature but there is enough there to build a solid profile. It seems like 9 out of every 10 new contacts I make now assume they will find me or the colleagues I’m recommending on LinkedIn. Here is a great resource from my good friend Chris Rollyson to help you get started: The Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn.

2. Maintain a respectable Facebook page - Many professionals have also opted to establish and maintain a Facebook page, although far fewer are giving this the same level of scrubbing  as their corresponding LinkedIn profile. I suspect its because most people get turned on to Facebook through friends and family members so the initial experience is less formal and more social. But the stern warnings from recruiters and HR managers are waking people up to the risks of exposing too much information so take care. The stories continue to pile up about inappropriate behavior on Facebook and I still run into this as I research founders and executives of young companies.

3. Personal blog/website – As valuable as the previous two tools are becoming,  I have found it difficult to fit the rest of my professional persona into the LinkedIn or Facebook templates. So like so many before me, I have created a personal site where I can fully express myself. I believe if you are going to build and manage your personal brand online, you need the full triad. Because these personal sites can really take any shape, they help to balance your overall brand.

There are good strategies and techniques that you should learn and incorporate to keep these three sites in sync – even cross-linked where appropriate. I hope to share more of these practices down the road but now I need to work on Surje 2.0.