Create a Free Digital Identity to Advance Your Career

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We've told you about the pitfalls of the Internet when it comes to your job, but there's also a flip side.

If you're an employee or entrepreneur looking for a job, a promotion, new clients or better business opportunities, there are several smart ways to create and enhance your digital identity.

Take a few minutes to use technology to your advantage in the workplace.

Set up electronic profiles. I've suggested that everyone Google themselves to see what comes up -- hopefully good stuff. But thousands of people e-mailed us to say nothing came up when they searched for themselves, and they were kind of disappointed about that!

In this Internet age, it's smart to have an online presence, and there are easy -- and safe -- ways to do it.

One of the best sites is LinkedIn.com with more than 5 million users in the United States. You can create a free professional profile where you control the content. Then your name and a link to your profile are indexed on the search engines like Google, Yahoo and others. So when someone Googles your name, this profile will appear in the search results. This is an ideal way to showcase your skills and expertise.

Recruiters now use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to look for new talent. And because it's known as a professional networking tool -- unlike online job boards -- you don't have to worry that your boss will assume you're job searching if or when your profile is found.

Three tips for maximizing your success with LinkedIn:

1. Select "full view" of your "public profile."

By selecting "full view," you will enable more information to be shown from your profile even when a Web user is not logged in to LinkedIn. The more content you allow to be shown, the more likely your profile will show up higher in the search results on sites like Google or Yahoo. This is a great way to control what people can learn about you if they Google you. (Don't worry: Personal data, such as your contact information, is never made public.)

2. Claim a "vanity URL" using your name.

When you create a free profile on LinkedIn, you can opt for a customized URL using your full name instead of using the default URL assigned to you. For example, my LinkedIn public profile URL is www.linkedin.com/in/toryjohnson.

3. Invite friends and/or desired professional contacts to link to you.

The power of LinkedIn rests with the ability to use your connections to connect with other people. Think of the business world as "six degrees of separation," the people you really want to reach are just six steps away. When you invite people to be one of your LinkedIn connections, you then have access to their connections, and so on. This helps people find you, and of course it helps you find someone at the company of your choice, or in your field of interest.

Other Resources

You can also create a free profile at ZoomInfo.com, as well as look for people and companies of interest to you. Professional women and entrepreneurs can create free profiles on my Web site in the Women for Hire Network at network.womenforhire.com. This is a source used by employers to find new hires and for women to help other members make introductions to the business associates and decision makers they're trying to reach.

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