You’re on the internet right now. But even when you are done reading this article, and leave the house to get out and do something, you are still on the internet. And you will be. Until the end of time. Steps we take in the outside world are more easily forgotten than our online footprints. You might be able to get away with murder out there, but make one post somewhere online, create a FaceBook account, or join a club, and chances are, you will leave an indelible scratch on the infinite sphere of cyberspace.
It’s a double-edged sword. It presents an opportunity to bolster ourselves by developing a strong and reputable online presence, but is also a chance for a prospective employer to google “Your Name” and see nothing but pictures of you, eyes half-closed, red cup in one hand, joint in the other. What impression do you want to make?
6. Develop your Web Presence
There are numerous simple ways to flush the colon of the internet and wash away those embarrassing references. Once we’ve cut the crap, we can fortify our diet with a few online resources that are well-respected.
Step 1: Delete worthless social networking tools, and privatize ones that you find valuable.
I recently purged a stagnant MySpace account that was littered with spammed comments, stupid pictures, and nothing of worth. Unfortunately, a googling of “Brian Radvansky” will turn up myspace.com/radvansky as the NUMBER ONE hit. I’m not sure if this will disappear in its own in time. Talk about an indelible mark. I have only been working at doing this for a week, so hopefully in time, MySpace will find itself on page 13 or worse of the Google search. My FaceBook is also pretty high on the list, but only friends whom I approve can see what lies beneath. The only thing you’ll find here is a few random friends. Nothing to be afraid of.
Step 2: Get LinkedIn.
LinkedIn claims to be the world’s largest business network. Many employers will search here for job candidates, so it behooves you to have some kind of presence established here. It also returns pretty high on Google, so a polished page here is something you’ll want others to see. Sign up, throw on a polished resume, your education and past work experience, and make connections with friends, classmates, and colleagues both past and present. Once you start building a network, you will be that much more established in the realm of the internet.
Step 3: Start Twittering.
I had sworn against Twitter when there was “Breaking News” on CNN that Twitter was down. I thought to myself “has the world really come to this?” I’ve since conceded defeat and realized that yes, the world has come to that. It’s a valuable tool to speak your mind, promote what you are working on, and connect with other internet users, both friends and beyond. Like LinkedIn, it also returns high on Google searches, and can push other crap down the list.
Step 4: Start a blog.
And not a dramatic diary to the world. Don’t complain that so-and-so won’t sleep with you, or reveal your sadistic desires. Just find something you are passionate about and write about it. Just write. Sites like WordPress and Blogger offer a slew of templates and all the tools you need to get going. Post your poetry, or songs you’ve written, or your study on capitalism. Anything you want the world to see. If nothing else, it will give you a “personality,” something to let people “see” you before they know you. You are no longer a random user, you’ve got a face, thoughts, and a platform to express them. Decide if you want to write for yourself, for friends, for a niche group, or for the masses, and work on developing relevant content from there. If you build it, they will come.
I personally have just started taking these steps, and as I learn about more valuable vehicles for coming across as an upstanding citizen of the internet, I’ll be sure to share.
There is an enormous world out there, and we’ve got a pretty limited amount of time to see as much as we desire. If you are not answering to full-time job, then you’ve got one enormous string that’s not attached. Have a significant other? Bring ’em with. You will learn more about the world, and more about yourself. Instead of thinking “this is how this it’s done,” you’ll realize “this is how it’s done in my country, or my state.” Expand your world view! Learn about a new culture, a new language, and new customs. Come home with amazing stories of jams you worked yourself out of, exciting people, natural wonders, and lessons that became elucidated through introspection. You will learn to be resourceful, and make the most you can with what you’ve got.
The three necessities to make something happen are a) the time, b) the means (often money), and c) the desire. You’ve probably got the time RIGHT NOW, the desire, well, that’s up to you. Let’s talk about the money. If you are willing to live meagerly, and be creative, there are many options out there to make it happen on the cheap.
Student loans holding you down? Well pay them off and make some money while exploring abroad. The US State Department has recently published an unofficial guide to teaching English in Korea, a place where it is among the most lucrative. Korean food is delicious, and the people I’ve met from Korea have been nothing but friendly and accommodating. You can also obtain a TEFL/ESL Certificate in Europe, and work your way around the continent. Dave’s ESL Cafe is a great resource for all things ESL. The pay won’t be as high, but if you are enterprising and teach some private lessons on the side, you can certainly come out on top. I sat in with a TEFL lesson that my friend gave in Spain. We got taken out to a Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona, and chatted over a beer and burgers with a Spanish CEO. And he picked up the bill.
Australia also has a (relatively) booming economy. If you are under 30 years old, you can pick up a Working Holiday Visa and work your way around the continent picking fruit, sailing, surfing, mining, bartending, etc. You can rent short-term apartments, meet lots of Germans, and learn the joy of a can of tuna over ramen noodles. The ones with the Korean writing are the most delicious. Having done this myself, I will discuss Australia travel as well as USA and world travel in future posts.
You’ve got enough to work with for now. Godspeed.