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In a recent article on Inc.com, Meredith Fineman, founder of FinePoint, explained her views on personal websites and why she believes every professional, regardless of their career level, should invest into building one. We've touched on professional websites before on the Talent Development Centre, and couldn't agree more with Meredith. Here are four fantastic tips and tricks she provides:
There is only so much you can control online, particularly when it comes to your name and profile. There are things you can barely control (like a person whose name is close to yours who happens to have great SEO), and some you can, like LinkedIn. However, with platforms like LinkedIn, you're still limited to their layout, their buttons, their prompts. You can't edit the code on your Facebook page, and so, by having your own website, you are in 100 percent control of the conversation surrounding you. And that's nearly the only time that happens.
Not only are you in control but you are able to show your personality, character, color, animation, video, audio--not to mention accolades--and they're all displayed, in a way that is unique to you. Think about your professional goals--and then about what you can put on your page to highlight why and how you can get there.
Personal websites get people jobs. I hired someone flat out because of her website (it was a play on Beyonce's, so I just had to).
There are a ton of easy-to-use platforms--such as Wix, Weebly, or WordPress--for creating a personal site. All of these services are free (at least at the basic level), and make producing your website a lot easier than it looks. This is the biggest reason, clients tell me, that they don't have their own websites--fear of the technical aspects. But it's just not that hard. You can also hire great designers, but for the first version you can always play with looks and layouts on your own with one of these programs.
Ten years ago I interviewed for an internship at a PR firm, and I remember the CEO saying, "If you don't remember anything else, at least buy the domain of your name." (I guess I didn't remember much else, but I did remember that.) Buy every iteration--.co, .org, .me. You never know what will happen: Someone with a name similar to yours could become famous (for good or bad), or someone could potentially harm your online reputation by using your name in a URL.
Having a personal website means you can also use it for your own purposes, not just to show others who you are. A personal website can house and track interesting projects you're working on and media mentions of you or your company, or it can keep all of your writing in one place. I use my site as a database for everything I've written in the past nine years, as well as everything that has been written about me. This is easy for business development emails, but it also allows you to really take a look over the work that you've done. All in one spot. Whenever I write something new, I immediately put it on the site. By making that a common practice, I don't have to try to remember pieces I wrote five years ago.
Show, don't tell
You can talk yourself blue in the face about a work experience, but nothing proves in an interview or meeting that you know how to produce a great video like one you created that someone can link to, send around, or watch to see what your skillset is like. A personal website isn't restricted to pieces written and accolades, but can also display your side interests, hobbies, photos, and more.
It's all about creating the conversation, versus having to control and change the discussion. A personal website is the easiest way to assert who you are, and to display it.