Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Reporting on My Digital Presence - Part 2

Ideas for Boosting My Online Presence
After examining my digital presence, I decided that I could put some effort into the way I portray myself online. Before I began, I read some recommendations from others about what I could do to boost my online presence.

First, I read Meg Guiseppi's "10 Ways to Build Your Online Identity." In the article, Guiseppi identified 10 best practices for building one's online identity. Of these suggestions, I was most passionate about making self Googling (also known as "ego-surfing") a routine, setting up a Google alert for my name, participating in social/business networking groups, and blogging (obviously). I resolved to check each of these suggestions off of my digital presence to-do list.

"6 Tips for Perfecting Your Personal Brand" by Brittney Helrich was the next article I read. A couple of the suggestions on this list were ones I had already seen or was doing, but one idea that stood out to me was to check the privacy settings on my various social media accounts. The Google search produced only a few of my social media accounts, including some that I intend to keep private and some that I would like to share publicly. Therefore, I decided to look into the privacy settings of my various social media accounts. The other new tip I wanted to keep in mind from this list was to actively promote myself, meaning that I should make connections between my digital posts across platforms. While I had been doing this sporadically, it was something I wanted to make sure to incorporate intentionally in the future.

Lastly, per my instructor's suggestion, I wanted to create a landing page for myself on about.me. Dr. Zeitz recommended that we connect our about.me pages to three other profiles to build our online identities. Because I already have a few professional online profiles, I thought having them all connected to a common about.me page was a great idea.

After gathering my ideas about boosting my online presence, I created an ordered checklist of the things I wanted to accomplish:

  • Blog (immediately and continuing into the future)
  • Set up a Google alert for my name (immediately)
  • Create an about.me page (immediately)
  • Participate in social/business networking groups (immediately)
  • Check my privacy settings for all social media accounts (immediately)
  • Actively promote myself (beginning now and continuing as I use social media)
  • Make it a habit to Google myself (once per month, enacted recently)

Luckily for me, I was introduced to blogging during my first year at UNI. My educational technology professors encouraged us to blog and promote our ideas about teaching and any new findings we discovered. As I have progressed through the years at UNI, I have tried to take time to blog about relevant educational ideas. If you are reading this right now, you found my blog! Thank you for visiting! Blogging is something I hope to continue to do as I earn my degree at UNI and begin teaching in the field. It is a great way to not only collect and reflect upon my thoughts, but also receive feedback from others who read my blog.

I've added an image of my blog on my blog!

Set Up a Google Alert for My Name
Google Alert is a free feature that allows you to know whenever someone posts about a certain topic on the web. By setting up a Google Alert for my name, Google will send me a report that includes the webpages that have used my name daily, weekly, monthly, etc. This will allow me to monitor the pages that use my name and quickly respond if anything inappropriate is associated with me. To set up your own Google Alert, click here! (It doesn't have to be a name; you can set up a Google Alert about anything!)

I set up an alert so that Google would let me know if my name was used on the Internet.

Create an About.me Page
I was extremely excited to create an about.me page because it was a form of social networking I'd never explored before! (Are you new to about.me too? Learn more about the site here and about creating a great "about" page here.) It was a very simple process that took me step-by-step through the necessary information and questions before my own page came to fruition. Check out my about.me!

Here is a screenshot of my about.me page!

The best part of about.me is that it creates a sort of "landing page" for all of the rest of my social and digital media to connect to. From my about.me, you can go directly to my Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger, Google+, and Pinterest. The site provides oodles of options of apps and other programs you might want to link to your about.me page, and it is very easy to add them. I hope to remember to add other forms of media to this page as I continue to explore and try new technology!

Participate in Social/Business Networking Groups
Besides efforts I have already described in previous blog postings (such as my professional Twitter), one form of networking that I needed to clean up was LinkedIn. I created a LinkedIn when I first started college, but I didn't utilize it fully because I didn't know what to do. It became a profile that others who knew me would use to connect with me professionally and nothing more. So to make progress in an effort to participate in networking groups, I decided to take a closer look at my LinkedIn. To guide me in this process, I followed the tips posted in Kaitlyn Russell's "9 Surefire Ways to Boost Your LinkedIn Profile When You Only Have 10 Minutes."

First, I looked into joining groups. I didn't know LinkedIn groups existed, so I wasn't a member of any before I started this process. Now, I have asked to join the Elementary Group for Teachers; Education Strategies for Parents, Teachers, Educators, and School Staff; National Education Association; The Math Connection; and Great Schools: Instructional Leadership Coaching and Development. These groups were recommended to me because of my area of emphasis listed on my LinkedIn page. Per the "expert tip" given by Russell, I also joined the University of Northern Iowa Network. Technically, I have only requested access to these groups, so I still need to see if I will be accepted before I can explore what to do with my groups. However, I am looking forward to exploring this area of LinkedIn!

I requested access into many education groups tonight!

Next, I checked to make sure my current position was up-to-date with my title, location, and responsibilities. These have not changed since I created my LinkedIn, so I did not need to do any editing there. (Note: My location does say Iowa City even though I am in Cedar Falls at school right now; however, I plan to student teach and obtain a position in the area long-term, so leaving Iowa City on my profile seems reasonable.)

A screenshot of my current position section of LinkedIn

I attacked my skills and endorsements next. This is an area that is going to need to be fixed with time, as others will need to endorse me. To start this process, I plan to visit my peers' profiles and endorse them, hopefully encouraging them to do the same for me. In the meantime, Russell stated in her article that "universally known programs" shouldn't be listed here because they are well known, so I removed Microsoft Word and Excel from my page. To balance that, I added my endorsement minors to this list, as well as Google Apps, because those are areas I know my contacts will be able to endorse me in.

Here's what my skills and endorsements looked like before the cleansing.

Now my skills and endorsements are more professional and relevant.

Changing my LinkedIn URL was the next suggestion, and I didn't know that was possible! The one I was assigned was awfully long and filled with random characters. To change my URL, all I had to do was click the URL listed right beneath my profile picture customize it in the editing tab that appeared. As the article suggested, I changed my URL to www.linkedin.com/in/firstnamelastname, so mine is now www.linkedin.com/in/annakron. Test the link if you don't believe me!

The next few suggestions in the article were irrelevant to me. The first said to ask for a recommendation, but I don't have anything to ask about yet. I plan to seek out endorsements by connecting with others in-person and endorsing them through LinkedIn. Another suggestion said to change my profile photo, but I actually did that at the beginning of the school year when I randomly received a connection request from a former resident. My profile photo is updated, though I should attempt to have a professional headshot taken in the near future so I'm not relying on selfies.

To continue updating my LinkedIn, the article recommended I "follow the right people." I'm going to tie this tip with the last (similar) suggestion, to "connect with [my] team members." These two items were related to making sure I was connecting with people I know and people I look up to in the field. Thankfully, I have been periodically making connections with LinkedIn since I joined, so I have 226 connections currently. However, to boost my connections, I requested to connect with professionals at UNI (such as Leigh Zeitz, Becky Hawbaker, Ashley Adams, and Connie Hansen) and education students that I know (including Kara Donahue, Nicole Heinrichs, and Mallory Thurm). I hope that as I become more involved with groups, I connect with others in my field!

The last tip I took from Russell's article was to rewrite my headline. Thankfully, the article gave another link explaining how to do this and why it is important. The LinkedIn headline is one of the first things profile browsers will notice (including potential employers), so it is important that it stands out. I changed my headline from a boring description of my job title and employer to a short description of how I'm known best at UNI.

Here's my updated headline! I think it's more representative of who I am.

After going through these suggestions, my LinkedIn profile does look much better. I think I can still make some improvements before potential employers start searching for me, but this profile is far more up-to-date than what it looked like earlier today. (Note: The article said these changes would only take ten minutes, but they took far longer.) I am happy with the alterations I have done, and I look forward to continuing to build my LinkedIn presence in the future by making connections, participating in groups, and updating my profile.

Please connect with me via LinkedIn!

Check My Privacy Settings
To further enhance my online presence, I went through my social media accounts to check my privacy settings. I started with Facebook. I have one personal Facebook account. When I logged into it, I conveniently saw this message in my newsfeed:

Facebook prompted me to check my privacy settings right when I logged in!

I followed the prompts to look through the privacy settings I'd agreed to in the past.

Facebook prompted me to check my post, app, and profile settings.

This was a quick and easy way to review who could view my Facebook content.

One thing that is worth noting is that I was asked, "Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?" and I marked "No." This explains why my Facebook profile did not show up on the hits when I Google searched myself originally. However, if someone was going to search my name using the Facebook search tool, they would be able to find me. I am satisfied with this setting. If employers are going to go to the lengths to find me on Facebook, they should; I don't have anything to hide!

Facebook asked, "Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?"

The next form of social media I examined was Twitter. I know from past experience that Twitter accounts can be either public or private, so I searched the web to find out what that meant and read this article before delving into my privacy settings. I learned that both of my Twitter accounts (personal and professional) are searchable because I have not protected my Tweets. Though I would rather keep my personal and professional Twitters separate, I do not shy away from anyone accessing either Twitter. I am comfortable and confident in the tweets that I have shared on both accounts, and I do not feel that it is necessary to "protect" my Tweets. Therefore, I do not believe I need to change my privacy settings for Twitter.

If I wanted to remove myself from searches, I would check "Protect my Tweets."

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @MissAnnaKron!

Next, I went to Instagram to see what my privacy settings had been set to. The settings in my Instagram app were very straightforward.

My Instagram is not private, so anyone could find my photos if they wanted to. However, in my searches, Instagram did not appear on any of the pages of hits I looked through. Additionally, my Instagram is probably the safest social media I have; I post nothing but what I like to call "positive vibes" on my Instagram. Therefore, I do not mind if the general public has access to my Instagram.

The last form of social media I looked into was Pinterest. I have two Pinterests, one for personal use and one for professional use. (To be honest, I rarely use my Pinterests besides to pin dresses, centerpieces, rings, and hair when I get wedding fever; I simply do not have time to browse the app.) Nonetheless, I still looked at the privacy settings for Pinterest. Surprisingly, both of my Pinterest accounts were discoverable by search engines, despite the fact that neither was discovered in my Google searching. While my affirmation still stands that I have nothing to hide on Pinterest, I changed my personal Pinterest so that it is not searchable. It seemed odd to me that someone could find my pins and learn a lot about my interests and dreams without my knowledge.

My search privacy originally allowed my profile to be shown in search engine results, but I changed this for my personal Pinterest.

From going through my privacy settings on my social media accounts, I was expecting to learn more about why certain pages showed up as Google hits as opposed to others. In some cases (such as Facebook), I had changed the settings so that I could not be searched in Google. But in most cases, I left my social media open for others to find. While some may see this as foolish, I genuinely do not think my social media accounts include any defaming pictures or words because I have been very careful to uphold a personal yet slightly professional presence. I am not sure why potential employers might want to check out my personal social media accounts, but I think they should go ahead!

To continue boosting my online presence, I resolved to actively promote myself more. Occasionally I link blog posts to other social media, or I might post the link to my latest blog post on my Twitter. However, I need to be more conscious about spreading my work in multiple realms. I think that my about.me page will help me make sure I keep my social media presence connected. Promoting myself and my work is a habit that I will have to develop over time, starting with tweeting about this blog post.

I occasionally spread the links to my blog on Twitter.

Google Myself
The last step I wanted to accomplish while taking this time to freshen my online presence was setting a plan to Google myself. By Googling my name and looking through the results, I will better understand what others are able to learn about me on the web. This, in turn, may help me prepare for interactions with others. For example, if I have scoured the web to determine what parents will know about me before their children walk into my classroom, I can more easily expel any parent concerns and show them that I am as genuine as the web results show. Besides Google Alerts, I would like to type my name (and whatever other words I need to show me, such as "Iowa City" or "education") into search engines each month to keep me educated on my online presence.

Have you put in effort to tidy your digital presence? Do you have ideas regarding how I should next expand upon my connections and work? Please share in the comments!

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