By now, many people are familiar with Cybersquatting – a process whereby a person registers a domain name in bad faith with the intent of reselling it later for a profit. Recent legislation has made it easier for trademark holders and famous persons to obtain their domains from squatters, but the process is by no means full-proof (just ask Kevin Spacey and Bruce Springsteen).
However, this is just one layer of an increasingly complex wired world…
I Registered, Therefore I Am
All large and most small/medium/micro businesses (though still not enough) are finally coming to the realization that online invisibility is a tremendous liability. But what about your personal online visibility? Many people have registered their personal names as domain names. Indeed, most domain registrars beat you over the head with requests to do so. But this article is about far more than domain names – that ship pretty much sailed years ago along with Gmail and Hotmail addresses. This is about establishing your online homesteads to be prepared for the current and future waves of social networking.
“Do you have a flag?”
This is a brilliant and hilarious skit by comedian Eddie Izzard. He satirizes imperialistic England, who claimed ownership over indigenous civilizations “through the cunning use of flags.” And so it goes with the new wired world – possession, as they say, is nine tenths of the law. You need to claim as much territory as possible as soon as possible and all you need is a flag: your name.
More and more every day, web sites are becoming tools for learning more about individuals. Sites like LinkedIn and VisualCV are becoming de facto online résumés. Blogger and WordPress are windows into peoples’ expertise and opinions. Flickr, Delicious, and Netflix allow people to share their interests and experiences. Of course, there are the mothers of all personal identity sites; Facebook and MySpace. Finally, there are aggregators like FriendFeed and Plaxo that attempt to tie them all together. You may utilize few if any of these sites right now, but do you want to bet your online future on the fact that you never will?
He Who Hesitates Is Lost
I’m fortunate in the sense that my name is not all that common. My identity is pretty readily available on most platforms. However, I’m not leaving it to chance. I registered my domain name years ago and have been on a land-grabbing tear recently, snatching up my identity on any site with which I come into contact regardless of whether or not I think I will use it. It’s the sports equivalent of “the best offense is a good defense.” I firmly believe that more and more prospective employers and customers will be using online searches for individuals sooner rather than later. If nothing else, don’t let them find the other “Jane Smith” before you.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Register
If you’re new to social networking and/or personal branding you may have no idea where to begin and that’s understandable. In my opinion, these are the top priorities:
- LinkedIn (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/janesmith)
- Blogger (e.g. janesmith.blogger.com)
- WordPress (e.g. janesmith.wordpress.com)
- Technorati (e.g. www.technorati.com/people/tecnorati/janesmith)
- Facebook (e.g. www.facebook.com/people/JaneSmith)
- YouTube (e.g. www.youtube.com/user/janesmith)
- Sharing and Aggregating
- FriendFeed (e.g. friendfeed.com/JaneSmith)
- Delicious (e.g. delicious.com/JaneSmith)
- Digg (e.g. dig.com/users/JaneSmith)
- Flickr (e.g. www.flickr.com/photos/janesmith)
Have I left anything out?
‘Oklahoma Bricktown Land Run’ courtesy of Serge Melki from Flickr (creative commons)