How to Optimize and own your own Profile on the Web and in Intranets

It started with a simple JIRA issue with the summary: “Optimize your own public profile”. We had a U.S. Tour for our Linchpin Intranet solution in December and I was sending mails to prospects and intranet customers like crazy. Every email contains a simple footer:

Viele Grüße / Best regards

Martin Seibert

//SEIBERT/MEDIA, T. +49-611-20570-20, +1-619-798-6420
http://seibert.biz/martinseibert

It is the same footer, both for German and English contacts. So for every mail you get from me, I include by default: my email (in the header), my phone number (This is missing in a lot of hipster mails, which I do not like.) and my English profile page.

I like the fact, that it is short. But I also realize, that the importance of the linked page is rising. That’s how the JIRA issue about optimizing this page was created.

I wanted to put some effort into optimizing my profile. That’s also why I am creating this blog post – as a public documentation and a point for you to comment on and help me get more ideas.

Why not link a social media profile page?

For the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, LinkedIn is the place to create a professional work profile page. Xing is still kind of leading in Germany. I have profile pages on both (LinkedIn, Xing).

I do not want to link to these pages, as I cannot control them. I cannot put a big video on the page. The social network will offer ads and interstitials, they’ll show info, that I cannot control. It’s an awesome opportunity, but not the type of thing, I want to put in my email footer. Instead of that my profile page will link LinkedIn, Xing, Twitter, Facebook, Quora and others prominently.

First problem that I stumbled upon when starting the optimization:

What should be on a profile page?

There are multiple ways to gather ideas about your personal profile page.

  • The social media sites and their profiles on LinkedIn, Xing, TwitterFacebook, Quora and others are a good start. But they are already linked. I did not simply want to copy over content. I personally do not have a very informative CV, for example. I have been self employed since I was 17 years old. No changes in companies, no different positions, … 😀 Nevertheless, those sites offer ideas for profiles: volunteer work, presentation slides, quotes from customers and business partners, language proficiencies, personal strengths and skills, hobbies, professional topics of interest, personal slogan, birthday / age, maiden name,
  • What I like and took from Facebook is the idea of pictures. If you want to know someone better, you look at them in real life.
  • Videos come to mind, as well. Links to your YouTube channels could be helpful too.
  • If you want people to engage with you, it is a good idea to include some dynamic elements in the page, that offer your recent activity on social media outlets (e.g. my recent tweets, my recent facebook activity, my recent answers on quora, …)
  • I had the opportunity to look at my colleagues profiles as well, since we have been maintaining public employee profiles for years. When looking at that, I found, that especially Joachim and Paul had put significant effort into making the content of their German pages helpful for customers. The following ideas resulted from their pages: publications, public speeches and talks, published blog posts, offer to give a talk, reference customers, current professional focus

What do your customers want on the page?

It’s not easy to answer this and follow along. But taking the customer’s view should be common practice. These are the questions that I assume customers ask them when they come to the page:

  • Who is this guy or gal? What does he look like? (Result: full name, roles in company, headshot)
  • How can I reach them? (Result: email address, phone number, mobile number, meeting scheduling page)
  • What is their formal background? Any certifications? (Result: CV, school, college, university, maybe even extraordinary grades)
  • What project and product experience do they have? (Result: case studies, reports, stories, links, …)
  • Who are you? Can you tell me a little about yourself so that I get a grasp of your personality, your style and whether I like you or not. (Result: short personal paragraph, video about yourself)

From my experience and from talking about this with colleagues and other business contacts, it is perceived as a problem to make it easy to be approachable digitally. Technically, anyone could now call me on my mobile or even schedule a call with me. That’s not exactly what I am aiming for. But it’s also not happening at all. And I am rigorous at turning down calls and meeting requests, that are not necessarily meant to be handled by me. But I agree that offering the availability in the first place is creating a certain friction of turning down people. The upside is that I get very good calls from people that I really want to talk to.

How to create such a profile page?

When Twitter came up, I created a profile and disliked that I had to use their domain for my profile: http://twitter.com/mseibert. I have now learned on Facebook, LinkedIn and quora and all other social media outlets, that this is just normal. And I foresee you telling me, that I am old school still trying to own my professional profile. If you are thinking that, my suggestion is to go with LinkedIn.

My recommendation however is to maintain your own page on your own outlet. This is a public Confluence for my profile. But it could just as well be WordPress, Joomla or any other CMS that you use for your website. You could even build your profile page completely from scratch with HTML and CSS, which is a good means of self-education and tech training.

Another reason for an independent page is, that you can get in contact with people from there. Believe it or not: Adil’s page already created new business for us through our live chat. 😀

The role of intranet profiles

If you work in a company with 1,000 or many more employees, all of the above is true for your intranet as well. In our Linchpin intranet solution based on Atlassian Confluence, we have a powerful option for administrators to pimp the profile structure for users in Confluence and add custom fields. You can define mandatory fields and a profile completion assistant will remind people to populate the required data. See the following videos to understand what I am talking about:

But most intranets will allow for individual pages that you can create and simply link from your internal profile as well.

Having a good virtual representation in your big company can be even more important than getting traction on the web. Everyone who knows about Dunbar’s number also knows, that it’s already difficult to maintain relationships internally to more than 150 people. Let’s assume you work in a company with 15,000 employees. How do you make sure, that they know, what you know a lot about, which languages you speak, in which office you work and how and when to reach you for support?

A good and informative and friendly intranet user profile isn’t what makes a social intranet pretty. It’s what can help fuel your career.

Work in progress …

As I am writing this, I am still “in progress” of optimizing my profile page both in English and German. Feel free to visit me there and drop a line for me with ideas and criticism as this process will probably never end. This brings me to two additional things to add: contact forms and a link to a feedback survey about the page and my possibilities to improve it.

What do you think? Do you have an independent profile on your own website? What do you want in it?

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