Some time ago, I was asked to present at an upcoming conference on the topic of Building a Digital Profile. I accepted as it was not only an interesting topic, also I valued the person who asked it of me, and it was also a paid opportunity.
Since accepting the work, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to have a digital profile and indeed, people have been asking me to help them out in this aspect.
For one, my own nephew who is close to finishing school and deciding what pathway to take for a career has also reached out to me to seek assistance on how to build his online profile.
At the same time, I have been writing about how I have stopped using social media (only Twitter and LinkedIn are now what I use) focussing mainly on YouTube (my videos) and my blog. Over time, my aim is to remove myself off from social media entirely.
However, this has been an interesting conundrum for me because as people ask me about building a digital profile, mentally, I’m already on the path of “switching off” of having an online profile and I do wonder then if I’m a hypocrite of sorts to be saying one thing and doing another.
When I reflect upon this further, I come to the conclusion that building a digital profile helped me build my networks through undertaking social behaviours that enabled the connection to new people to share new ideas, insights and perspectives; sharing of peoples work that I found valuable and also being open and generous with “working and learning out loud”.
However, I’m in a phase of my life where I’m now thinking of the “next phase”. Unlike my nephew who is just starting out his journey, I guess you could say I’m in the twilight years of my work and career. Certainly I don’t see it being of any importance to me beyond 5 okay, let’s say up to 8 years from now. In fact, I’m going to do my best to see what can do to retire as early as possible. With retirement, comes the fact that I really don’t need a digital profile. I’m not building a business nor do I need my networks for career prospects.
If anything, the years ahead will be more focussed on me making sure that I reconnect with my local community; can keep myself active, happy and healthy and also ensure that I build more face-to-face friendships with people who come from a variety of backgrounds and in particular, AGES.
So what I’m saying is that the older we get, the less we need DIGITAL profile and the more we need PHYSICAL relationships and friendships. REAL people. Sure, it’s great to have people you can Zoom with any time of day, but there’s still going to be a time when you actually need to talk and connect with someone for real. We need friends.
So when creating the presentation and the activities for the workshop that I will facilitate for this conference, I based the entire presentation on my own experience and focussed on building a digital profile through “standing out” of the network especially for people who are either starting or mid-way through their careers. Those who are looking for other work or those who would like to undergo a career change.
The “standing out” was not about following the standard ‘template’ of creating a profile in your preferred social network such as Twitter or LinkedIn but doing behaviours that make you stand out from the noise.
This “standing out” means taking some risks.
- Risks to NOT to do what everyone else is doing.
- Risk to NOT just promote yourself and your own work (ie self-marketing).
- Risk of NOT using the social networks in ways that everyone else is doing.
- Risk of expressing creativity in the use of any media you choose to be on.
While the conference is in New Zealand, I cannot travel outside of Melbourne so I will deliver it online through Teams and use the various M365 tools to make it as interactive as possible.
Yesterday I finished creating the presentation, and unlike me, I have decided not to share it nor write about the exact elements that I will cover. After all, the evidence of my work is actually already out there currently on Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog, my YouTube channel. It’s everywhere. I’ve simply packaged up my own framework of how I stand myself out of a crowd and will deliver it to this audience.
I do hope they will find what I propose to them useful and take a risk to build their own digital profile and do so in such a way that they aspire to whatever they want for their lives. After all, there are no rules for how to build a digital profile (sure, people will give you recommendations on what social network to use; how to take a good profile photo; what your website should look like etc) but really, at the end of the day, building a digital profile is really all about building relationships and networks with people and then providing VALUE back to people in some way.
Not many people talk about the latter but many are willing to give you their cookie-cutter approach.
Never go cookie cutter – design your own cookie.
I’ll keep you posted how it goes but I’m looking forward to it.