Charles Basenga Kiyanda

Creating an online persona

A (really good!) friend of mine was recently contacted by a head hunter. He was subsequently flown to the company headquarters and given a tour. He’s also an engineer, though his specialty is not at all in the same domain as mine. (I still like him though.) While touring this company, he noticed they actually needed people with a strong background in combustion/explosives/stuff I could do… so he spontaneously decided to give them my name. I’m not necessarily looking for a job now, though I’ll probably be looking for a job at some point in the future (my current post-doctoral contract is for 2+1 years) and there’s no harm in keeping options open. (Actually, I’m quite happy he gave them my name).

I haven’t been contacted by a head hunter yet…

Why is that?

  • They might not be looking for people like me that hard. I can’t do anything about that.
  • They might need more time to look/find me. I can’t do anything about that either.
  • I might not exist in their wold. Now there’s a problem.

My friend was contacted on LinkedIn, which I guess by now is a de facto standard for translating online your professional identity. I didn’t have a linkedin account until this morning. In fact, unless you’re absolutely intent on finding who I am as a researcher and a scientist using online search tools, you have to really know what you’re looking for. You need to know I work on detonation waves and solid explosives mostly. In fact, if you go on google and look for my online professional self, you don’t find him. You quickly learn I like photography (and you get to see some of the pictures I’ve taken over the years), you find this blog (which is neither very well maintained nor very  professional) and you discover that I commented on a Richard Martineau’s cyberpresse blog years ago and I was once too drunk. I don’t regret what I wrote, but it’s hardly a good description of my professional life.

Hence the title of this post and my need to create a new (additional?) online persona. The professional me: Charles-the-scientist-online.

There’s not a standard site scientists and researcher types should go to in order to define that online persona. There’s not yet a clear standard for an online-facebook-scientist-social-network. Here are thus the first 2 steps I’ve picked:

  1. At-least-weekly updates to this blog (which ultimately will be beneficial for me in several other ways);
  2. Create a proper account on linkedin.

Why those first two steps?

  1. My facebook account is rather non-professional and I’ve kept it rather hidden. When you look for me online, my facebook account doesn’t come up very high (as of 11/06/2010, it doesn’t show up on the first page of google results for my name). I’d like to keep it that way. This website, on the other hand, has been coming up in first place for a while. I may as well capitalize on this.
  2. As I hinted earlier, linkedin seems to be a de facto standard now. I’m guessing I can use that site as a repository of CV, links to stuff I’ve created, etc.

So far, I’ve successfully created an account on linkedin and I already had a question. I had to pick between the basic (free) account and the premium experience (25$/month) account. As I’m not really looking for a job just now, I decided to go with the free option. I wasn’t quite sure at first what the best option was to be found. Then again, I imagine most people are probably on the free account anyway (they claim to have 80 million users, which if everyone was on the paid option would mean 1.6 billion dollars monthly revenue…)

More news on the creation of the new online persona as time goes by, although an interesting question has already popped up in my head. Is there room on the internet for two of me? My personal facebook profile is pretty much limited to facebook. What if I wanted that information to be public, would I have a problem? Would the personal friend-me be competing with the professional-scientist-me for online exposure? How do you manage that situation?

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