Getting the most from your about.me page

This post is Day #8 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

In my article yesterday on Google+ I mentioned that I liked the site because it allowed me to list all my social media summaries in one spot. While Google+ is new to the world of social networking there is a site that has been around since 2009 that offers the same service.

About.me is a spot where you can create a one page profile to link all your websites and social networking identities. The service has trusted relationships with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn among others so that when people click on your links they will see your latest updates within your about.me page. They can then navigate to your profile on the specific site if they want to see the rest of your updates.

To sign up for your account visit the site. You can pick your own URL and I highly recommend you use the name you used on all your other accounts as you want to keep your personal brand consistent across all platforms. You also want to use your name as it will be easy to remember by people when you tell them you have an about.me profile. They could easily append your name to the end of the site URL to find you.

Once your site is created you can then add content. The nice thing is that about.me is as much visual as it is content based. The background of your page can be any large image. People generally list images of themselves as their background. However you can use some graphic or general scenic shot if you desire. My site uses a shot of me atop Diamond Head in Oahu, Hawaii.

Next you want to add your biography. You want to give a general sense of who you are so that when people come to this site they have a brief introduction to you. As well, both the picture and the biography also offer the visitor the reassurance they are on the right page. If you have passed this page URL to someone who you met briefly or have only talked to through email this is especially helpful. It is not a problem with someone with my last name but when you get a name like “John Smith” about.me returns six pages of results.

The last major section to fill out is Services. This is where you can add links to your various online identities. When you click “Add A Service” you can select from a large number sites. This will create a reciprocal link between the two sites and add a logo to your page. When users click the logo they can preview your identity on that site.

When you click “Add A Service” you can also choose “Add A URL”. This will allow you to add a link to a website that is not listed as a service. This is an excellent way to link to personal websites and other developer sites
like GitHub, Stack Overflow and CodePlex that can flesh out your profile.

As you can see about.me is a quick and easy way to create a one-page personalized website. You can share this link and a visitor has a page where they can see your picture, get a quick bio and then select a link to any of your social media sites. It essentially acts as a clearing house for all your identities on the web.

Ontario Land Transfer Tax Calculator – my new Windows Phone 7 app

My newest Windows Phone 7 app entitled Ontario Land Transfer Tax Calculator has been published to the Windows Phone Marketplace.

The Ontario Land Transfer Tax Calculator can help you quickly calculate the total land transfer taxes you will pay to purchase your property.

Simply insert the purchase price of your new residence. The calculator does the rest including calculating provincial land transfer tax rates and what you will save with the first-time homebuyer’s rebate. As well, if you are purchasing a property in Toronto you can determine what your combined land transfer tax rate and first-time homebuyer’s rebate will be.

Use the Ontario Land Transfer Tax Calculator to:
- Confirm the calculations of a real estate professional
- Determine your closing costs
- Calculate your land transfer taxes across the province and within the GTA

Click the button below to download it today!

Download for Windows Phone 7

After you have downloaded it, please go to the app’s About page to add your rating/review.

Finally, visit my page in the Windows Phone Marketplace to see a listing of all my other Windows Phone 7 apps available for download.

Using Google+ as a placeholder service

This post is Day #7 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

Google+ or Google Plus or G+ was launched in the fall of 2011 as an attempt to rival the hold that Facebook has over users. The premise is the same as Facebook in that it will allow you to create a profile and then link that profile to other Google+ users. You can then use these networks to share information and keep abreast of what other people are doing.

Google+ has gained a fast following in the short time it has been active. It already has over 90 million users but lags behind the over 800 million users of Facebook. However, the launch of Google+ brought some innovations that Facebook has scrambled to replicate. This includes the idea of “Circles” which allows you to categorize people and only post updates to these people. As we saw in my previous article on Facebook I made the decision to separate my Facebook account from my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts so that I could keep my private and professional lives separate. Conceivably with Google+ you would not have to do that.

The new site also offers “hangouts” which allows for group video chatting with up to 10 people at a time. They also have a +1 button where you can recommend websites or specific pages on the internet. This is akin to Facebook’s Like button but instead it follows you around the internet. There are many other features offered by Google+.

An account id is offered free to anyone who has a Google account or a Gmail account. If you already have one of these accounts then your Google+ profile is waiting for you. If not then it will be available once you create your Google account.

The benefit of a Google account is obvious. Because it is so tightly integrated into Google your identity is easily shared with its search engine. Doing a quick search on my name in Google I can see that my Google+ account is the fourth item returned. People can see my account on the first page of search results and get information about me immediately.

This all being said I am not a Google+ user. The reason being is most of the people I know on Facebook have not migrated to using the site. That does not mean I will not use it in future but for now it is an empty placeholder. However, I did fill out my profile on the About page and added links to all my social media identities. The reason being is that when people browse to this page I have a free service where I can aggregate all my links so that people can find my other active sites.

As you can see I believe in using all the social networking sites I can to create my personal brand and to promote it.

Facebook – for personal or professional contacts?

This post is Day #6 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

Since we touched on LinkedIn yesterday it is only appropriate that we discuss Facebook today. I want to look at some of the pros and cons of using Facebook and how it can impact your professional life if it is not used appropriately.

Facebook is the granddaddy of social networking sites. So unlike my other articles that ran you through the steps of setting up an account with the service I will not do that with Facebook. I figure anyone who wants a Facebook account probably already has one by now.

Where Facebook and LinkedIn differ though is that Facebook is built for your personal life. It contains connections to family, friends as well as some select work colleagues. This is where you generally interact with others as you would in a neighborhood bar. However, these interactions are not always in the most professional manner. So you need to make some decisions as to how you approach Facebook.

We have all heard the stories of how people applying for jobs were rejected because of their Facebook updates. You better believe that recruiters are Googling your name when they are seriously considering adding you to their team. So you need to be smart about you use of Facebook.

According to this article Dorie Clark, a strategy consultant and author, has designated her LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for professional use and her Facebook account for personal use only. This is a policy that I also follow. I want to maintain my Facebook connections to my circle of friends but I am also careful to separate my work and personal lives.

Facebook has taken privacy concerns of its users very strongly. This means you can lock down your Facebook account to only a select few people. For my account I have limited my site to only my friends. This means that they are the only ones who can see my info. I have also removed myself from showing up in Google searches. So in effect I am invisible to everyone except the people I know.

Some people have also abandoned Facebook all together in favour of LinkedIn. I would not go this far as Facebook can still have a place in your professional life. Although I am not exposing my Facebook data to the world the people I am connected to in Facebook still act as a network for me. These people are an excellent resource for any current or future job search. I could easily post a message that I am looking for work and if they cannot help me perhaps they have people in their networks that could.

The above is just my opinion about Facebook. If you decide you still want to use it as an active tool in your personal branding toolbox then maximize its effectiveness. Here are some of the things you might want to consider doing:

  1. Set your Vanity URL like we did in LinkedIn.
  2. Use a professional picture for your headshot. This picture should be the same one you used for LinkedIn. I will talk at a later stage in the series about the importance of having a uniform look across all your sites.
  3. Fill out your education and work information. You want to establish your career details here so that you can make yourself stand out.
  4. Add links to your Twitter account and your blog. Again, you want to create reciprocal links between your sites. You can also consider adding an RSS feed from your professional blog/website to your Facebook profile so people can see what you are up to.
  5. Create poignant status updates that reflect any changes in your work situation. You can also post links to interesting articles that relate to your industry. Remember: you are trying to establish yourself as someone who is in the know. It also demonstrates that you can bring value to your network.

Whatever route you take in regards to Facebook you need to think about what is best for your personal brand. If you want to close off Facebook to only your friends or if you want to brand with it just be sure you are fully committed to one choice or another.

LinkedIn as your new digital resume

This post is Day #5 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

The rise to prominence of LinkedIn as the tool of choice for people looking to switch jobs and careers is no coincidence. In the current economy where everyone must do more with less, human resource workers are searching for viable candidates rather than spending big bucks at sites like Monster.com and Dice.com to post a call for resumes. By spending time on LinkedIn they can filter through thousands of resumes instantly and find a suitable group of candidates to contact.

Now before we get down to building our LinkedIn site we need to describe what LinkedIn is and is not. I have often heard LinkedIn described as Facebook for grownups or Facebook for your career. Both of these are fairly accurate but it is also so much more than that. I would describe it as a virtual resume service and networking interface for professionals all wrapped into one site. It is a place where you can create a profile, establish your credentials, develop a viable network of colleagues and expose your professional life to the world.

Some people might be asking themselves why they would want to do this. If they are not on Facebook why would they want to be on LinkedIn? The main reason I would say to join is to get exposure for yourself. You need to get your name out there. When you do a Google search for people their LinkedIn profile is often the first item in the list. This is an excellent place for a recruiter to begin their background research on you.

To get started with LinkedIn browse to the LinkedIn site. You can register yourself here. Because this is going to reflect you in your professional life you want your profile to be perfect. It will take a fair bit of time to develop your profile so that it is reflective of who you are. There are many sections to fill out and I recommend that you take the time to fill them out in length. I often composed my information beforehand in Microsoft Word and only transferred it to my LinkedIn account once I was happy with it.

The goal of filling out your profile is to achieve 100% completeness. Keep in mind that according to LinkedIn users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. A complete profile used to be a lot more difficult as you would need to fill out your various sections and have three recommendations from others. LinkedIn in recently made changes to what 100% complete means. I would recommend you put as much info on your profile as you are comfortable doing. Also keep in mind that LinkedIn does have privacy controls that will allow you to filter what people can see.

However, if you are not comfortable with putting everything on the site then I would focus on putting keywords or descriptors in the following sections: Headline, Summary, Position Titles and Position Descriptions. By adding keywords to these areas you increase your chances of being found within LinkedIn when a search is done. Finally I would add a professional looking headshot to your profile.

As software developers another section I would think about filling out is the Projects section. This area allows you to toot your own horn about personal projects that you have been working on. This could be links to websites you built, apps in a mobile marketplace that people can download or open source projects you contributed to. It could also be a link to your GitHub repository. This section acts as a portfolio of the work you have done over the years.

Once your profile is established you then want to develop your network. You can do this two different ways – searching manually for people you know or by importing your email contacts into the site. Importing through your email is a good first step since you can get the majority of people at once. You will basically be sending them an invitation to join your network and confirm that they know you. You can then add other connections manually through a search.

A question I often see being asked is who should I network with? With this there are two schools of thought – anyone you can and only the select few you want. Some people say your network list should include anyone you have ever met – even in passing. This way you build your network and increase your chances of landing your next opportunity. I think this strategy works well for people in sales and especially people like realtors. My opinion is that software developers should keep it to people you know really well. You want that referral for your next job to come from people who can vouch for you. I heard one person say they only add people that they had dinner with. You can implement a similar set of criteria for yourself as to how you will add people.

One of the neat things about LinkedIn is that other users can write recommendations about you. These were essential to completing your profile not too long ago. However, they still carry some weight with people looking to hire. A recommendation is someone going on the record to salute you for the work you did for them or with them. They generally describe the work you did and how well you did it. It can give you an edge over others if you have a lot of them or if they come from high profile people.

Finally, I want to end with a list of some of the tips I have found helped me in the year that I have been on LinkedIn:

  1. Your LinkedIn public profile address will be a lot of letters and numbers. Within the Settings area you can replace your current address with your name. This is called a vanity URL. So instead of having a link like http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ken-cenerelli/##/##/#?# I changed my link to http://www.linkedin.com/in/kencenerelli. This way I have a distinctive URL to promote myself. I could include this link on a business card or send it to prospective employers. It also makes for a clean URL within the Google search engine.
  2. You can make a connection between Twitter and LinkedIn within your page settings. This will allow you to post status updates to your LinkedIn profile page using the #in hashtag. This is a handy thing to have so that you can create some symbiosis between your sites. For more information on this see my previous article on Using Twitter to promote your blog and your personal brand.
  3. Contributing to conversations in the Answers section will also raise your profile. It shows your expertise in various areas and that you are willing to take the time to help others.
  4. LinkedIn has groups for all kinds of interests. Joining one or several in the areas of your interests will also allow you to connect with like-minded people. This can lead to more contacts for you network and also help establish you as an expert.
  5. Use Applications within your pages. Applications are like widgets that you can embed in your page to add more dynamic content. Within my site I have a widget that pulls in my SlideShare files. There is also an Amazon widget where you can mention books that you are reading or have read. You can also write a recommendation on the book.
  6. Within the Additional Information area of your profile you can add links to three external sites you may have. I recommend you take advantage of this. As well, replace the default names of Personal Website, Blog, etc. with the name of the actual site. This will create awareness of your personal site/blog name. Also add your Twitter handle there as well.

With this article I have only begun to scratch the surface of what can be done with LinkedIn. I suggest you Google articles on how to improve and then optimize your LinkedIn profile. By putting in a little bit of effort now it might pay off big later on in terms of landing your dream job.

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