These days, especially for technology professionals, maintaining an online presence is crucial. But one of the biggest challenges facing anyone trying to bolster their presence online is choosing an appropriate service. Facebook, LinkedIn
, and Twitter
are all very well, but Facebook is mostly used for personal information, while LinkedIn is a professional site, but doesn't give you much latitude when creating a personal feel to your online profile. Twitter is even less conducive when it comes to personalised style - especially given that most people will be reading your Tweets in a dedicated reader rather than going to the Twitter site anyway.
Ideally, a personal profile site will be able to aggregate information from various social networks, while giving you the chance to create your own special look and feel. There are a variety of options to choose from.
his AOL owned site lets you create a personal splash page using any photograph that you want. You can add your own links (say, to a variety of personal and business webpages), along with links to services including all of the popular ones, along with others such as Foursquare, Posterous, and Github. One useful feature of this site is the analytics capability, which enables you to monitor how many views your site has garnered, along with who is linking to you. You can also measure your Klout
score, which gives you a measure of your online influence.
Flavors.me is an alternative to About.me that I find slightly more slick. Not only does it provide customisation capabilities and links to your other services, but it also lets you read your social streams from those other services, too, turning it into a kind of FriendFeed, but with a lot more polish. It offers you a variety of design features, including multiple layouts, and even provides search engine optimisation capabilities. This site works on a freemium model, providing a basic (but still highly functional) site for free, with an upgrade offering more layouts, specific mobile display options, and other goodies, for a fee.
This site is designed more for small businesses that individuals, but then, if you are an IT contractor who has incorporated, you qualify. It lets you customise your profile page, in much the same way as About.me, but takes a slightly different approach to measuring the value of your network. It uses a social graph, replete with bubbles and lines, to show others who you are connected with. You can also add a smattering of social network links, to take visitors to your accounts on services such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
This aggregation site that you choose a tag, which can represent everything from an individual to a company or product. Once you have chosen your tag (which could be your name, for example) you can type a little about yourself, and add information such as your name, location, and a vCard. You can also add connections to the major social networks, along with other data such as your phone numbers and address. One attractive aspect to this site is that it automatically assigns you a QR code for your page (although it is easy to do that for any page on any service, by simply using a QR code generator).
Naymz focuses heavily on reputation management. It measures your social influence, through other social networks that you link to the system. It also uses assessments by your peers on the Naymz network. Together, your peer assessment and social influence constitute your RepScore.
There are many more personal online profile sites, some focusing on social networking links, and others focusing on presenting your information as effectively as possible. Why use them instead of simply creating your own web site?
They can take the hassle out of web site development, leaving you time to pursue more relevant pursuits such as finding an amazing job. Their social networking features are also beyond what most of us could build on our own sites, and pulling your accounts into one place is a great way to present your entire online presence in one site to a potential employer (although you may want to leave social networks with a personal focus off the list).
Of course, these personal profile and social service aggregation sites are themselves proliferating, leading to a similar problem: which one do you choose? At some point, surely, someone will come up with an aggregator for the aggregators, and so the whole tangled mess will continue. I chose to redirect to a site from my own domain name, and promote the domain name on my business card, giving me total control over my own home on the web.