Networking and the Internet


Next week I will be speaking at the Jamaica Employers Federation Convention 2007 on the topic of networking in the Caribbean region.

As I prepare, it has struck me that this kind of networking is based on some fundamental differences that all professionals across the region must come to terms with.

The first is that there is absolutely no way to network across the region without using the internet.

The second is that internet-based networking is actually happening whether a given professional is actually actively involved or not.

How so?

Imagine that in five years or so your name will be all over the internet. Today, a Google search done on a professional’s name probably picks up some small scrap of the total content that will be available in 2012. who will be creating this content that will be picked up the search engines?

Good question, but I can’t really know the answer. I can say with full assurance that a working professional who is committed to either growing their business or rising through the ranks in some company is going to find their name mentioned in the press, on their employer’s website, in meeting minutes of conferences, in their friend’s blogs and at their cousin’s website.

In other words, if they do nothing, then others will be defining who they are to the world. More specifically, they will be defining them to the rest of the Caribbean region.

What is the professional to do?

One approach is to stick one’s head in the sand and hope that all this internet nonsense will just go away.

A better approach is to start today to create a profile of oneself on the internet, by engaging in the following kinds of activities:

  • set up a page
  • start a blog
  • have conversations in chat rooms, message boards and mailing lists
  • speak at conventions and conferences
  • author papers and columns in ezines
  • upload videos to YouTube
  • write letters to the online press
  • post up a bio to the company website

These are just some of the ways in which a professional can create content that demonstrates who they are to a global audience. Sharing interesting ideas is probably the most effective way to become known in this, the information age.

Not so long ago, only 15 years in fact, there was very little understanding about this new thing called “email.” Today, email is a staple of doing business, moving from complete obscurity to the kind of ubiquity that makes not having an email address a kiss of death.

In the future, putting one’s head in the sand about their “internet brand” will be just as deadly. A good time to start to build that brand is right now.

Ideally, a Google search on our own name should yield a combination of items that we want our fellow professionals to see, rather than some random smattering of stuff other people have decided to say. It is critical that our region’s professionals take the task of managing their online brand as an essential one — as essential as deciding what to wear to work each day.