Opportunities always come knocking. We miss them when we “appear” not to be ready, even if we are, because in business, branding and perception are everything. Recently an opportunity came up in an organisation I work with and I was part of a team charged with the responsibility of suggesting suitable speakers and panelists for an upcoming event.
Attending networking events, hosting seminars and conferences in the past have given me the opportunity to connect with some really talented professionals and entrepreneurs passionate about what they do. Suggesting suitable speakers and panelists was not difficult. What was difficult was backing the suggestions with evidence of suitability – because some of the people I could have suggested have no online presence. There might have been the option of requesting written copies of their work but as time was of the essence, the opportunities went to the experts who have packaged their expertise in readiness for ‘online search for talent.’ I couldn’t help but feel bad for the opportunity these accomplished professionals missed even though they didn’t know about this particular opportunity. But it did make me wonder how many opportunities I could have potentially missed myself in the period of time my website was offline due to technical challenges.
Occasionally, I meet people who prefer not to have an online presence because they do not want the exposure or feel it’s too “showy.” But in a world where marketing is the lifeline of career or business growth, that stance is costing countless professionals and entrepreneurs thousands in lost opportunities. The crucial thing to remember is that whatever is posted online in accessible by millions and could be either detrimental to image or useful to potential employers, investors or clients. So images of drunken parties might be a no-no if one is looking for a high-profile professional engagement. In a 2011 article on Forbes.com, Dan Schawbel gave 5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 Years. The article suggests reasons why having an online presence is crucial in keeping up with projected economic change trends.
Admittedly, getting a website designed can feel daunting and burn a hole in your pocket. But it does not have to be that way. Unless you are a huge corporate with a limitless marketing budget, there are low-cost options for creating a professional online presence and increasing your chances of taking advantage of the opportunities that will most likely come your way.
Here are 3 low-cost platforms to consider:
1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn has become one of the most important platforms for professional networking. Reportedly used by more than 300 million people on a global scale, it would be unwise not to tap into the potential it presents to build professional connections that could yield countless opportunities. Registration in FREE, with the option of upgrading to a premium account and tapping into even more resources not available to non-premium members. Jason Demers, Founder of Audience Bloom, a Seattle-based content marketing and social media agency, writes a great article on 7 Truths About LinkedIn Every Professional Needs to Know. It’s worth reading to find out the rules of engagement for this very useful networking platform.
2. About.Me: If you already have an existing website, then About.Me may not be for you. However, if you are yet to create a website and want an online presence to showcase your message or your work on a single page so people know where to locate you if they want to do business or collaborate, consider setting up a page on this no-fuss platform. Used strategically, it could be a very useful online business-card, that can be added to your email signature for easy sharing.
3. WordPress: Gone are the days of spending hundreds or even thousands on setting up a website. The boom in online marketing and technology has leveled the playing field allowing just about anyone to afford a website. For less than the cost of a night out, anyone can purchase a pre-designed website template and edit it to suit their branding needs. Websites like ThemeForest.net offer website templates that cater to most industries and interests. Prices range from £2.00 to £50. Of course one gets what they pay for in value, but it’s a no-brainer in terms of an affordable investment in one’s own business or career.
What are your thoughts on having an online presence? Do you think it is necessary or can one live without it and still find ways to reach or be reached by more clients or investors?
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