I remember Ecademy co-founder Thomas Power telling me almost ten years ago “if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist”. At the time, some people felt that was a slight exaggeration, but we all knew exactly what he meant.
In an era when in business most of us Google someone before meeting them for the first time, clearly it is important to be as visible as possible online, and it goes without saying that there are more than enough tools to help us to grow and build not only an impressive online presence but also to build a notable online reputation. (In fact, I tend to use LinkedIn more than Google when I'm looking to find people).
So twice in a couple of weeks I have felt physically disappointed not to have been able to find two people online – on one occasion when I was in a position to help them find a job and the other when I wanted to hire someone to do some computer repairs.
The former was, in her own words “a top financial planner for my company in Australia and in Singapore when we moved there”. She added “I was also one of the company’s top performers in London when I was based at Canary Wharf”.
I had no reason to doubt her, and given that she had recently been made redundant from her role with a major bank, I was in a position to introduce her to a number of financial planning firms who were looking for talented financial planners such as her.
Having taken her business card, I went straight onto LinkedIn to learn a little more about her. To my frustration, whilst I was able to find her profile, it showed only her name and her former company. No detail, no specialties, no skills, no testimonials and no contact details. In an age when you expect to be able to find even the most basic career information about people – let alone photos and an insight into their interests outside work, I actually felt irritated.
True, not everyone is fully engaged with the Internet or Social Media. Indeed, none of it is compulsory. But surely everyone in business – whether employed or unemployed should by now have an appreciation that there is always someone ‘out there’ who is looking for a person like you; and if you don’t have even the most standard of online profiles, the assumption is that you don’t exist.
Having recently upgraded my PC to Windows 8, after an initial hatred of the platform I grew to quite like it. Then, after one week of using it, my PC decided not to start. It ran all the usual diagnostic and repair processes, tried to find a restore point etc., but all to no avail. And it still won’t start - somewhat ironic for Microsoft.
So I searched online for a local computer repair service and was ready to give two firms a call – only for my wife to suggest that I get in touch with someone else – the father of one of my daughter’s school friends. Apparently he was a computer repair wizard and this sort of thing was right up his street. And anyway, it would be nice to give the business to someone with whom we were already vaguely acquainted.
Having searched for his name and various permutations on ‘PC repair’ keywords around where he lives, he too is completely invisible online - nothing on Google, nothing on Bing and nothing on LinkedIn. And no we don’t have his phone number or email address, and no I don’t want to wait until Monday to try and meet him in the school playground. The Internet is now my telephone directory and if you’re not in it, you don’t exist and you don’t get my business.
My background is in financial services, where I run a social networking site for financial advisers. According to one set of figures, around 20% of financial adviser firms still don’t have a website. People from other industries find this unbelievable, and frankly I do too.
True, some people are far too visible online! But better that we can see that they are live and kicking, engaging with other people online and in many cases adding value to everyone else’s online experience.
Being invisible online today is in my view no longer an option. Come out – show yourself! Some of us might just want to help you, or heaven forbid - even purchase something from you!
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net