#building and #keeping your #personal #portal #online for #free

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What could be the next thing I write about? A short “how to” for your own personal online visibility- of course, for free.

Well, I am actively resurrecting an old idea, from the early times of the Web (i.e. mid-1990s), right after I checked the “new” technology to see how it could be used to replace Lotus Notes (the workgroup tool, not just the email system) to distribute knowledge.

My purpose? I had done a small project for an art gallery- to manage their mailings with collectors, and I had therefore a little bit of knowledge (also from attending various events and “vernissage” since I was a kid) on the business side of art (e.g. the “degrees of freedom” on which invitations you can send, and other business management minutiae).

At the same time, as my father was a theatre actor, again since I was a kid I had been able to observe that environment (along with commercial radio and TV)- and, as a bookworm who had already experimented with few ways of classifying information and books before I was 18 (including the Dewey system, in its UDC version), I saw a clear opportunity- a “meeting point online”.

Unfortunately, at the time I was busy in other activities in few countries (my two traditional lines: change and its management, and business intelligence), and therefore I talked with somebody who was planning to prepare a website for museums, suggesting to merge our interests, and offering to help develop their business model and also help the “technical side” on the definition of the architectural design.

Why unfortunately? Well, it was my first Italian dot com- and I saw patterns that I were to see often in the future, which can be summarized with: it is not the value or “enabling factor” that you deliver, but the time that you spend that is considered as what defines your value… as if you were working on a nuts-and-bolts operation where units-per-time is what matter (and not just in Turin- in Italy at large, as this is the flip side of the positive value of a craftsman approach).

So, if you aren’t there each day, but just when needed for the expertise that you can provide… do not expect to get your share (actually- no share at all).

Eventually, years ago I built an online website (currently under revision), aiming to resume my 1990s idea, focusing this time just on artists and their agents (it is called http://www.theatralis.net).

As a Russian online contact knows, when he asked me a list of artist management agents to contact in Italy… I shared the list not just with him, but also online (you can see the number of visits on each information card for the almost 100 agencies that I listed).

How do you build such a list? First, use public directories and books or references to identify a potential address book (as I did in business to identify “prospects” for both an activity to deliver methodologies and then my own online magazine on change, called http://www.businessfitnessmagazine.com ; you can see a free updated version of the magazine content on http://www.slideshare.net/robertolofaro/bfm2013-knowledgebased-organizational-change, and buy the Kindle or paper version on Amazon at http://astore.amazon.com/getarothewor-20/).

Then, again as I did in business and for my own business… organize a “direct mailing” and “cold calling” project, which obviously starts with the design of a script (to use while contacting agencies), continued with the actual calls and data collection (done by a person that I had coached on the first similar project two decades ago, and continued to use when needed- never met somebody able to bypass “filters” so easily), and ended with the actual data cleansing and, finally, publishing online.

The result? A website that, despite few years since the information has been updated, is still active (as usual- as a free service).

Are you curious to know which Italian artist management agents are collecting more requests for information (on my old theatralis.net website, of course)? http://www.theatralis.net/index.php/agents/italian-agents-most-visited.html

Yes, I know- I have to update and refresh the website, and extend it to other countries (while in Brussels I looked at BeNeLux, France, and UK- but then I lacked the resources); incidentally, the artists’ CVs that were stored there will have to go elsewhere (but a Frype friend knows that already).

So, what did I do? I considered two elements (thanks to my past experiments), and decided that it is so 2000s to add your own way of storing a curriculum, when there are so many free options available that can be easily searched, connected, and shared.

A profile online makes sense if it is connected to other profiles- and it doesn’t really make that much sense (for myself) to create a completely new database, as this would reduce the options for those willing to join.

Actually: I did give the same advice to the founders of the dot com I told you about before, as they had decided to build an events website for art galleries and museums, but initially they wanted to offer also the “website building” service.

What did I tell them? At the time, few Italians (not just in arts) were online- therefore, a start-up trying to offer an A-to-Z online service that included an events diary would risk losing those that were more open to the new technology, and had already internal or external resources catering for their web needs.

Better to split the activity in two, unrelated businesses, to ensure that there would be no perceived or real conflict of interest- they did so, and their database quickly grew, as those joining spread also the word (it wasn’t competing with what they already had, and web agencies actually could help).

In my own personal case, of course I used the concept shown on http://robertolofaro.wordpress.com, i.e. a free website on WordPress.com, so that it is a link easy to remember where I can add projects, my CV, etc- without any technical knowledge (ok, I could follow a more technical approach, but I think that just having tools doesn’t imply that you need to use them!)- also to maybe replicate the approach in the future if and when I will work with others.

For the “audience” (note that “theatralis” is not focused just on theatre- any kind of performing arts, including, if you want, communication as a professional business- as a trial lawyer delivers a performance :D), I had to consider what could be easier to use, connect with other systems (including Theatralis.net, which is based on Joomla), and share.

It might seem counterintuitive, but I decided that probably Linkedin is the best option for any professional (and I saw that abroad also actors directors politicians lawyers journalists etc use it for their own “business side”)- not just IT and marketing (as it was at the beginning, in late 2000s); I too removed bits and pieces of my online presence to slowly converge on Linkedin (basically, I started doing so as part of my repositioning plan, notably since April 2013).

Nonetheless, there are few elements that don’t make any sense (e.g. the “employment history”): so, just don’t use them- the summary, plus links to galleries hosted on Google (more about the “why Google” later), and maybe additional information stored under the “projects” section (as you enter just what you need, e.g. as a title “other activities” or “portfolio” and then few links or information here and there), are probably all that is needed to have a simple “extended business card/professional portal” on Linkedin.

Why galleries on Google? Because you can share the link (also Facebook and Frype allow them) with non-members, but if you add links to Google galleries on Linkedin, your visitor will see a nice (it depends on your pictures!) moving gallery when they click on a link.

Moreover, if you visit within Google the /photos area of your profile, you can also send an email message, or a message with other members of the Google environment… with a nicely formatted “contact sheet” of your pictures.

Last but not least: I know that many dislike the concept that Google shares all the information across all the applications, but the upside is that you can have a “folder” for each type of information (e.g. photos, or documents with “Drive”), and still no need to learn technicalities: if you know how to update a picture, you know everything that is needed.

Personally, I use “drive”, “photos”, “translate”, and few other bits and pieces- but I leave on http://www.twitter.com/robertolofaro and http://www.facebook.com/robertolofaro other parts of my online presence (e.g. I converted my personal Facebook profile into a business and personal profile, where I connect also business contacts that for the time being I will not connect on http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertolofaro – yes, Facebook is my Rolodex).

In Linkedin, I suggest that you simply skip all the requests for information, and go directly to the “edit” button, to update the link to your own profile (right under the picture on your profile), and select something easy to find and remember (unless you have already your own “brand”, why not just your name and surname? leave your creativity where is needed, not where it is just akin to creative accouting- a waste of resources that has negative impacts on ordinary activities).

Last but not least: if you use a profile on Linkedin as a “portal” and “portfolio presentation”… forget about privacy, and immediately change all the options to have as much visibility as possible (e.g. allow “visible to everyone” wherever available, notably to show your picture), and add within the “contact details” links to other profiles online (so that you can be contacted by those outside Linkedin), while leaving email within Linkedin open only to your contacts (to avoid wasting time with spammers and “gurus looking for disciples”).

Of course- I did something slightly different for my own profile: but you have to adapt general rules to what you need.

Eventually, you might also consider adding groups to discuss with others, both on your business side (Linkedin) and personal (Facebook, G+) side: but if you want to know more about that, have a look at the articles on http://www.dirittodivoto.com/index.php/strumenti (each article contains a link to the English version), or read online the book on business social networking (for free on http://www.slideshare.net/robertolofaro/business-social-networking-part-1-cultural-and-historical-perspective, or on Kindle and paper on http://astore.amazon.com/getarothewor-20/).

Now, why this article? As I wrote before… I share online what is really a collection of “drafts” that I will eventually use in my own activities- but if I can save you few minutes right now by sharing my experiences with you, or maybe inspire some alternatives… why not?

As for my book reading and summary sharing plan for this week-end… I had to set aside some for a couple of days, and move forward on others- but I kept of course my schedule on Chinese (see http://wodeshudian.wordpress.com), as that comes with a weekly publishing plan (basically- what you see online, is what I did one-two weeks ago offline, so that I have time to get through it again few times and hopefully remove typos!).

The next publishing step? Beside updating http://thecircusbxl.wordpress.com with a summary of events so far, I will keep “streamlining” my websites, as I would like to keep my publishing schedule, and therefore what is visible online on a weekly basis (e.g. news Mon-Fri and blog posts over the week-end) is the tip of the iceberg of what I am working on (I am basically preparing to do my publishing and writing only in my spare time).

If you have any ideas or suggestion about which bits of my blog should turn into a book or something else (search on https://gettingaroundtheworldnet.wordpress.com), let me know.

Also if you have a business idea that you derived from what I wrote and would like to turn it into a business reality, let me know- maybe we can find a way to work jointly on that during the “kick-starting” phase (e.g. on the business model, business&marketing planning, organizational design and key staff profiling and procurement, suppliers and supply chain design; then, it will be your business: I do not believe in permanent consultants- it is an addiction, not a solution).

For the time being… have a nice evening!

PS as usual: it is a draft, I have no time to polish it- therefore, extract just what makes sense to you, or ignore it- it is completely up to you 🙂 I will polish and review if and when this material will end up in a book or other material 😀

PPS on 2014-04-22: a promise is a promise… so, after Easter, here is the update 🙂

http://thecircusbxl.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/almost-four-years-later-few-books-and-few-experiment/

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One thought on “#building and #keeping your #personal #portal #online for #free

  1. Pingback: (almost) four years later… few books and few experiment :) | Somewhere Blog

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