Life Happens: How to succeed in business without really tweeting
By Aprill Brandon
Wanna know what I've been doing for the past three hours? Heh. No. I wish. You dirty birdie, you.
No, sadly, what I've been doing for the past three hours is much less likely to land me in jail. Instead, I've been trying to log into my old LinkedIn account.
Unfortunately, since it's been four years since I've actually logged on, none of my old standby passwords ("mrsryanreynolds," "BornAgainJedi," "Boozy_McBoozerson") were working. So, I ended up just creating a brand new LinkedIn account, once again painstakingly typing out descriptions of former jobs and lying stretching the truth a bit about my current skill set (why, yes, I do believe dos semesters of Spanish, each resulting in a respectable "C" average, translates into "fluent"). And then BONUS! I spent another frustrating 30 minutes trying to close the old account, which kept resulting in the same "your request cannot be processed at this time" error message.
And then, just for fun, another hour sending out "invitations" to all my former connections on there so they could connect with me on the new profile.
So what could possibly make a (relatively) normal person do this voluntarily, you ask? Well, it's all a part of the exciting world of looking for a new job.
Forget the days of a mere resume and portfolio. In order to compete in today's job market, it is now necessary to have an online presence. Or to put it in shiny, $500 seminar, life coach terms, today you have to "brand" yourself online, where your worth is not measured in talent, or well, any skill whatsoever (thanks, Snooki!), but rather in page views and little thumbs-up icons.
And branding means navigating the world of social networking sites.
So, naturally, you start with a LinkedIn account to network and make professional contacts in your industry. And, of course, a Twitter account to get more exposure, build up followers from your industry and provide links to your work. And you can't forget good, old Facebook to reach the 17 percent of the population who still just don't "get" Twitter.
And even though Myspace died in 2007, you just can't bring yourself to delete it because there are still some, not a lot, but some respectable people who still use it, and you need all the exposure you can get (plus, you did spend one entire Mountain Dew Code Red-fueled afternoon customizing your background with glitter letters after all).
Of course, it's also a good idea to have your own website, a place to stream all your witty status updates ("If I've learned anything, it's never trust a person wearing Crocs") and post your blog ("What a Croc"). However, being that most of us outside the IT department think troubleshooting is when you spill the tequila before it hits your mouth, you end up just paying the $17 on WordPress to get your own domain name, pick a template and BOOM! You're good to go.
But not only do you need all these profiles and websites, you also have to maintain upkeep of them, deleting all those comments from your crazy Uncle Bobby who thinks everything is a conspiracy, and erasing all the incriminating photos from your 21st birthday (OK, fine, your 29th), and making sure there is at least some uniformity to them because you never know what potential boss could be checking them out.
But you're not done yet. Oh no. Looking for a job also means you now have to get rid of all those old, defunct profiles you half-heartedly created years ago but still show up every time you Google yourself (oh hush, you know you do). So you try to delete the one you created for National Novel Writing Month, back when you actually thought trying to write a novel in 30 days would be "fun," and your accounts on Friendster and Bebo, both of which, let's be honest, you created just to stalk your ex and their horse-teethed new love interest. And your old blog on Blogger, "The Jim & Jim Beam Project" that you created after watching the movie "Julie & Julia," and you thought writing a blog about getting drunk on a new drink every day for a year would make you famous, too.
But then, even though you "deleted" them, they're not really deleted! And so you spend the two hours trying to figure out who to email to make sure they do get deleted! And even then, they still show up under Google Search!
And then you realize you're spending all this time trying to manage your online life, that it leaves very little time to actually find a job. Not to mention, you haven't actually talked to a real person in 11 days. And no matter how hard you try to keep up, there is Uncle Bobby again posting "Donald Trump's hair is really an evil overlord from Planet Toupee" and your friend Susie keeps tagging photos of you from her bachelorette party where you thought you were Lady Gaga and were singing "Bad Romance" wearing a bubble wrap dress and everyone keeps sending you that "OMG, you'll never believe this ... Click here" virus link. And you're so busying tweeting and Facebooking and updating your profiles that you can't even finish work from your current job and end up leaving the end of the column you're writing just hang...
Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Vicad.com, Myspace, 365project.org, Tumblr and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and some other variation of her name that she forgot long ago @yahoo.com.