Every now and then I feel like I need to go stand on top of a mountain and shout to the world: “You need a web presence!” It can be anything; a blog, a static website, a single webpage, a twitter stream, anything at all, but it needs to exist. And this is true for everyone, not just tech savvy teenagers and so-called “social media experts”. Unless you’re someone who never meets people at all, you need a web presence.
Here’s the thing. One day some enterprising young college student with a blog will see what you’re doing, or hear about you or somehow stumble upon your work. Said student will then will then want to write a blog post praising your work because he thinks it’s cool and wants everyone to know about it. The college student will then go to Google, type in your name and expect to find to find a reasonably detailed website or blog so that he can learn more about you and put a link to it in his post. However if there is nothing to find except some random third-party accounts of who you are and what you’ve done (or worse yet, a Facebook page) this enterprising college student will simply go away. And a few dozen (or hundred) people who could have known about your work, won’t.
This isn’t the 1990’s anymore. Having a stable web presence doesn’t mean having to craft HTML by hand or being your own sysadmin. It just means knowing how to sign up for a WordPress account and having reasonably decent writing skills. Yet people who really should know better and would benefit greatly from a web presence are completely oblivious to how the Internet can help them.
Weak ties are important. It’s great to have a close group of personal friends and associates whom you meet everyday and with whom you have a lot in common. But having a large network of weak links — people who you are connected to, but who are not in your “clique” is also important. These weak ties are people who you meet at random at a friend’s barbeque, the person sitting in the seat next to you at a concert, the person who hears about you, thinks you’re interesting and joins your Twitter conversations. According to a classic paper published in the 70s people are three times as likely to have found their current job via a weak link than through formal methods (headhunters or classifieds). Weak ties also help spread trust and support and could be a factor in the success of social movements.
Luckily for us, the Internet and the web make forming and leveraging weak links easier than ever. Ask and thou shalt receive, all you have to do is reach out and you have a world of connections waiting for you. So please put yourself out on the web for people to find you. Make it easy for these weak ties to be formed, for people to come out and help you with what you’re doing. You don’t have to be looking for a job or starting a social movement to get benefit out of weak ties, the best part of the story is that you can get benefits and opportunities when you least expect them. You’re not limited to the people in your office or neighborhood and you don’t have to be rich and famous to have a worldwide loose network.
The game has changed, the rules are a bit different, but in many ways it’s a lot more fun. Go get yourself a web presence and come join us on the field. There’s always room for one more.