Are You Absent, Invisible, a Reflection or an Impression?

You may be among us and we might not know. If you’re not blogging or at least leaving comments on blogs, not tweeting or at least re-tweeting, or haven’t posted or at least contributed to a thread on a social network: you may be present but virtually invisible to us.

That’s unfortunate if you believe you have something valuable to offer, since we don’t have tools to see the invisible you.

Who’s invisible?

You may be invisible because you have yet to define your brand and your online behavior reflects your fuzzy self. Your presence is a stream or scattering of unrelated content. You’re tagged in a business association photo from the summer event, you left a review of a diet book because a friend wrote it, and the slide show you did for your travel club is posted on and incidentally showed up on your LinkedIn page.

The lack of clarity about who you are is tragic if you’re seeking to change your work status or increase your sphere of influence. It would be like Dr. Pemberton making that first delicious glass of Coke and leaving it at that.  The secret formula would still have yielded its refreshing and near addictive quality, it’s just that its presence would have been known only to the lucky few who could come by Pemberton’s pharmacy. Oh, and the multi-billion dollar revenue Coke has gone on to generate would have been unrealized as well.

Absent and unaccounted for

If we have to drive to your house in order to know you exist, or come to your workplace to know you have talent, you are absent from the real, virtual world of opportunity. If you are among the fraction of people who only search, read, listen, and watch, you are functionally absent. If you see the online environment only as a place to become informed, entertained, and diverted from work or life in order to get a virtual, Aha….Laugh….Stress-buster….Thrill……You are absent.

But of course, you are not absent. You created your profile in some of the right places. You poke, give a thumbs-up, and tell us that you are a jalapeno on the hot pepper quiz. You exchange recommendations with colleagues on LinkedIn. You follow people on Twitter. We see you’ve updated your photo on Facebook because of a big night out. We might Google or Bing you and you apparently exist, albeit accidentally rather than on purpose.

That you are not absent from the web, doesn’t equate to your being really present on the web. If you’re not consistently contributing valuable content, you probably are close to being invisible. Like H. G. Wells’ Invisible Man, you are someone we bump into, but never recognize or remember.

A reflection is better than nothing

At the least, you must be a reflection of your interests on the web. That means you pick out the blogs that speak to who you are and what you aspire to know, and you leave comments. You not only join, but respond to news and discussion questions from your LinkedIn groups. You don’t just re-tweet, but provide a public response to people you follow on Twitter, and assert what you think of their ideas and offers.

By selectively interacting, you shape how we know you and insure that we consider you. By your posted reflections about others’ ideas, you give us some way to see if you are the right person to hire, promote, or otherwise include in our companies or projects.

Making an impression

At the black diamond level, you are more than reflection: you make an impression. By creating original content on your blog with consistent, clear themes and key words, you take a big stride toward becoming your own brand. Publish articles or reach out for press coverage, write op/ed pieces in your industry publications, regularly update your status, and present at events all the legs of your brand. Legs allow your brand to stand up, and even better, carry you toward the goals you are seeking to achieve and enjoy.

Where are you on the spectrum of nowhere to ubiquity? Here’s what you want to evaluate.

1.    How often do I visit blogs or news sites without leaving a comment?
2.    What causes me to update my status: an external event or something I create?
3.    Who is visiting my site or Googling me, and what do they find when they look?