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Reference Check: You Are Who Google Says You Are

Reference Check: You Are Who Google Says You Are
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    If first impressions count, then you are who Google says you are. Your reputation is the first 3 pages of search engine hits.

    The internet and its search engines have become so powerful, available and user-friendly that your reputation is becoming defined by what the first 3 pages of yahoo or google search hits turns up. Forget about personal and professional references for making a first impression because the internet search gets done before that.

    Think about how often you will do a quick internet search before meeting a prospective client or supplier coming to your office. How about checking up on a prospective date or hire? Chances are that you might do a quick internet search before meeting. Likewise if you meet someone at a networking event, how often will you look at their website and maybe poke around the net for a couple minutes or more to get a better sense before calling? For most corporate purchasing, the salesperson doesn’t matter much these days so long as there is good information on the website. If you are looking for a product or service, chances are that you would troll the net before doing much else. It is fast, cheap, easy and hassle-free because you can passively review the information without talking to sales people or going through any tedious hoops.

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    There are 3 simple steps you can take to enhance your web profile:

    • Ensure your internet profile from the first 3 pages of hits matches up with who you want others to think you are.
    • Become involved in the online community so there are more cross-references to you and to your website if you have one.
    • Put good content on your website or wherever you leave your mark. If you are submitting articles or participating in searchable forums, make sure the stuff doesn’t work against you later. Presentation also counts so present the content well and not in the wrong places. Porn sites are likely not the best place to post articles, especially if you have a nosy mother-in-law with broadband.

    If you have a website, it should be well maintained and checked often enough to ensure the material there positively supports the online profile you are trying to establish and maintain.

    There are some great ways to enhance your internet profile. Most of them do not involve paying search engine listing fees or buying ads. The better ones include:

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    Publishing articles online. Articles that contain your name, links to your website and key words are automatically picked up by the search engines and will bump up the hit counts on your main website.

    Affiliating with other websites. Your hit counts will get pulled up if you tie into trade association or non-profit organization websites, especially those with higher hit counts than yours. Many non-profit associations have websites and if you are an active member chances are stuff will get onto the website and maybe other places on the net from this.

    Keeping past content on the server. Do not remove past content from your website if it is consistent with your desired messaging and already picked up by search engines. It keeps working to advertise you or your business and adds to your hit count. Conversely, empty hits which are those annoying dead ends when you click on a search engine result that goes to content that has been removed frustrates people.

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    Monitor your hit counts and do regular searches. Use your website hosting company or third party performance measurement and monitoring tools to tune your website and track links to affiliated sites, articles, etcetera. Be mindful that as your traffic increases, it grows geometrically, not linearly. If your site is an early hit on the search engine results lists, it gets additional traffic because people tend to go to the highest hits first, increasing the counts non-linearly by that act alone. Just like in most competitions, 1st place gets much more attention than 3rd place and 4th place gets no notice or prize money. Hitting on your own site can effect the counts and improve search engine placements, especially if you are highly specialized.

    Send people direct links to your content rather than the file itself. A good example would be for articles. Rather than attaching the file itself to an email, put a link in the email with maybe an extract from the article in the body of the email. That way you do not load down people’s emails while you create additional hit counts that raise your positive internet profile.

    Become a great spammer. Spam the internet itself with your messaging. It is not the same thing as sending spam via email. Participate in forums, comment on relevant news pieces (putting in a link to your website), post articles, join lists and get your messaging into as many places as possible.

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    Let your introduction and a positive first impression be made for you by the internet search engines. Whether dating, looking for a job or a client, if you do a good job developing and maintaining a good internet profile, you will have a chance to make a good second impression when you first meet the person.

    Peter Paul Roosen has an engineering background and founded numerous companies including firms involved in locomotive and plastics manufacturing, computer software and marketing. Tatsuya Nakagawa is president and CEO of Atomica Creative Group Ltd., a strategic product marketing company based in Vancouver Canada. He has assisted numerous companies in diverse industries with their early stage deployments and product launches in North America, Europe and Asia.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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