Creating a Professional Online Presence
While I've read tech blogs and articles for years, the idea that I should start my own and that it might provide some benefits never crossed my mind. There are thousands out there and it's not as if I expect to become famous writing one - so what's the point?
An online presence that anyone can view (in addition to a resume and LinkedIn profile) shows that someone is active in their field and provides a level of transparency to their activity. This applies whether you're interviewing, sharing knowledge with colleagues, or explaining to a friend what exactly it is you do.
Is a resume or LinkedIn profile sufficient for most people? Sure, it has been for me so far. As anyone who's interviewed knows - a lot of people seem fantastic on paper, but they can seem like a totally different person when you speak with them. Even in the case that someone has a great resume and a great interview, an online presence can provide easily accessible examples of work and knowledge that sets them apart.
Reading about a subject is a great way to learn, and attempting to teach it to someone is a fantastic way of reinforcing it. Not only that, but if you're posting something online with the intention of people viewing it you will probably do a more thorough job than if you were jotting down notes for yourself in Notepad. Doing that extra 10% of research and attention to detail over time adds up and will bleed into other areas of your life - even if it won't be seen by others.
If you're anything like me, you have a lot of bookmarks in your browser. I have sub-folders within sub-folders within sub-folders...which eventually lead to the actual bookmark I want. Saving and organizing what you research is important if for no other reason than you know you're going to need it later!
I can't tell you the amount of times I've worked on a project, told myself "I've been at this for months - I'll remember how to do this until I die". Then 6 months later I've completely forgotten the details I need to know to fix what's broken. Thankfully I've bookmarked any relevant blogs or KB articles, and made documentation on the overall process.
Writing your experiences or learned lessons out on a blog is great way to supplement your bookmarks - after all, you wrote it! No more searching for a KB article or blog post explanation written in a way that makes sense to you.
Last but not least, an online presence gives you an opportunity to share. Whether your sharing comes from a blog, tech forum post, or YouTube video, you're adding to the collective online knowledge of a subject. Every time I run into an issue I can't crack, Google is there to save me. Specifically, the Google search results.
When you can't get a generator to start after losing power due to a hurricane and there's a video on YouTube of someone with your exact make and model showing you how to dismantle and clean out the carburetor to get it started again, you really appreciate the people that share their knowledge online.
My Online Presence
While starting and maintaining a professional online presence may seem unnecessary to some, I've come to believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives of not having one. I hope to contribute what I've learned to the online community and document my thoughts and lessons learned for the future.