Over the past several years I have been thinking about my online presence and how best to help cultivate it. However, I had no idea where to begin or what strategies to use. All I knew was that I needed to have a web site somewhere with my work history and some pictures. I had dabbled a few times with creating them but nothing has really stuck with me. Over the past three months, there have been many different lessons. The two that struck me the most were the importance of controlling my presence and consistency.
Your online presence is incredibly important and can have both positive and negative consequences. If you are the one putting information out about yourself then you are in control. If you sit back and don’t put out information, then you run the risk of others putting out information about you. The information that others put out may or may not be positive.
Over the years I have registered for all manner of sites, using a variety of different handles. None really stuck. BrendanLea is usually taken, Blea sounds like pee (this will not work with elementary students), LeaBrendan confuses people, and BrendanCIS limits me. All of the handles exist on various sites that I have used. This not only makes it hard for me to remember but makes it almost impossible for others to find me online. After many years, I seem to have settled for the username mrbrenlea. Why? It’s easy for me to remember and it’s unique, which means I’m almost always guaranteed to get it.
In a sense I have begun my product branding in earnest. As I read the blog Personal Branding 101, I realized that I have a long way to go. I do have a web site that contains all my professional information (resumes, education, video, links to other online spaces) but there is still work to be done. I have also started to switch over my old site handles to mrbrenlea. These handles will then be added to my web site to make it easier to access. I also decided on an image for myself. Finally I have chosen an image for myself that I feel captures the essence of me.
Why am I doing all this and why will I continue? It is kind of fun and addicting to create a profile that others can see and I’m learning a lot about web site design. I want my learning and my experiences to go beyond the classroom. However, to do this I need to make connections. In order for these connections to work properly, then I need to make it easy for people to find me.
I know there is a long way for me to go in developing my online presence, however, I do feel as though I am off to a very good start. My hope is that my mark will identify me as a fun loving professional who continues to grow and cares deeply about teaching and his students.
Against Social Control by Jaume d’Urgell, found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
mrbrenlea by Brendan Lea, Personal Photo