Social Networking has changed the way we communicate, not just with friends and acquaintances, but with colleagues and potential employers. Researchers can track down and view documents in hours, a task that just a few years ago could have takenmonths. Faculty and graduate students are connected across the globe as if they were across campus. But with the exciting advantages brought by social networking come questions about privacy and how it can affect your future job prospects. In her article Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics, Miriam Posner provides some useful advice for maintaining a professional presence online.
Creating a professional online presence can be accomplished across multiple platforms. However,Posner recommends becoming familiar with each site you plan to use before signing up for an account. Find out how the site will use your personal data and if the settings allow you to maintain your preferred level of privacy. Good questions to ask when researching social media include: how does the community operate and how does it allow you to connect with other academics and professionals?
Academia.edu, LinkedIn, and Google profiles are examples of sites that allow users to connect with professionals across a variety of disciplines and put an emphasis on the networking aspect of social networking. When considering a platform that caters to a single discipline, it’s a good idea to find out if profiles are regularly maintained by users. Large numbers of profiles that aren’t maintained regularly is a sign that the site isn’t used frequently. Your faculty advisor may be able to help you determine if an account with a discipline specific site is worth your time.
If you search your name in your favorite search engine, what are the top results? Is your name common so thatlinks to your work are easily confused with the links of another academic? Or perhaps your personal Twitter feed dominates your search results. Posner has a few suggestions to clean up your search engine results.
Creating a Google profile is easy and will help set you apart from others who share your name. While LinkedIn is primarily used in the business community, it’s still worth considering. If you decide to pursue a career outside academia, it will help to have an already established professional profile. Also, because it’s a Google product, LinkedIn profiles tend to rank high in Google search results.
Academia.edu is a site developed for academics to share work and follow each other. Your profile can include your CV, teaching philosophy, and journal articles. Through Academia.edu you have the opportunity to connect with scholars around the world who share your research interests. Because this is a social networking site, Academia.edu also tends to rank high in search results.
Part of creating visibility for your online presence means consistency across the various platforms. Posner suggests using the same image and voice in all of your professional social networking.
Academia.edu, LinkedIn, and Google profiles are just three of the options available and you shouldn’t limit yourself to these three platforms. When you’re ready to create a professional online presence, do some research, talk to your fellow students, and choose the site or sites that best fit your needs.
Posner, M. (2011). Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creating-your-webpresence-a-primer-for-academics/30458.