How to consolidate your online presence

In the last post I looked at what an online presence and why it’s important. Your online presence is a two-way street, it’s what others see of you and how you interact on the web. Here are some tips to get your online presence under control.

Google Scrubbing

Google is quickly becoming the world’s homepage. If anyone who doesn’t know you wants to look for you, then chances are the first thing they will do is type your name into Google’s search box. So the question is, what are they going to see? Hopefully you’ve been smart enough not to leak your personal life onto the internet. But even if everything that a Google search reveals are things you wouldn’t mind people seeing, they might be very random and chances are they won’t give the full picture about you. So it’s up to you to make sure that Google does present the real you. How do you go about it? Well, that’s what the next section is about

Get a domain name

Domain names can be had for under $10 a year and there are lots of free hosting options. Having a domain name lets you carve out a part of the Internet and brand it with your own signature style. Trying to get a meaningful domain name that you can keep around for a long time and which you won’t mind telling lots of other people about.

Once you have a domain name, put it to use by building a good website around it. Put up normal things like a resume, but also put up PDFs of articles or papers you’ve written and link to your other work online. If you write blogs (one or many) consider turning them into subdomains of your website. This way there is a central location for your work on the web. Unless of course, you specifically want your blogging life to remain separate.

Consolidate your email

Another great reason to get a domain name is so that you can have email addresses attached to it. Having an email address attached to a domain name means that you don’t have to change it whenever you change jobs or schools and it looks more professional than a free email address. I would recommend having multiple email addresses for each domainL one for business, one for friends and family, one for mailing lists, one for free subscriptions etc. This way if you start getting spammed you can find out where it’s coming from and take measures.

Of course having a separate inbox for each email address would be very unproductive. I strongly recommend using the free Google Apps for your Domain and then using the Gmail app to alias multiple addresses to the same inbox. Then you set up filters to appropriately label, hide or delete emails sent to the various emails. Look at the first chapter of Upgrade Your Life for more useful email tricks.

Get your nicknames under control

Chances are you have multiple nicknames for different forums, IRC and IM. It might be a good idea to stick to a uniform set of nicknames so that people can find you. However, depending on whether or not you want to actually want to be known or if the nicknames are available, this might not be an option.

If you have any advice on how to get your online life under control, please drop me a note in the comments.

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