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III. Getting Motivated: Why Bother With an Online Presence?

Jul 15, 2014 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

Why bother having an online presence at all? It's just another thing you have to do.

Some of the reasons you might want to take charge of your online presence are to help you gain visibility, disseminate your research, grow your network, and manage what people learn about you online.

Gain Visibility

The Internet is one of the best ways to attain visibility for yourself and your work. One of the ways to stand out is to have a very strong and professional online presence, showcasing yourself in both traditional academic and nonacademic roles. The Internet is a powerful means to become more prominent in the ways that you want to be known. So think about make makes you unique and use your online presence to communicate your persona clearly and consistently.

Disseminate Your Research

Creating an online presence allows you to share and disseminate knowledge more broadly. This is important because obviously you want people to see and read your work. There have been studies done in the United Kingdom concluding that researchers who tweet their academic essays and mention their research in their blogs get many more page views and citations than people who don't.

Grow Your Network

The Internet provides the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues, people that you may never have connected with otherwise, for geographical or other reasons. It enables you to connect with colleagues internationally. You can connect to your colleagues within your discipline, or outside your discipline, as well as outside of academia. You can connect to the community, and you can connect to the media.

Manage What People See

And, finally, people will google you. If you’re on the market for a job, search committees are going to google the candidates. Before conferences, people may google you to see whether they want to go to your presentation or hear you speak. This is the reality of the Internet. What do you want people to see about you? Consciously designing your online presence gives you control of the persona people see. You become the author of the narrative about yourself that speaks to who you are and how you want people to perceive you.

If you do indeed decide that you want to be more in control of your online presence, there are many decisions to make. The next several blogs will walk you through the options for setting up a website or a blog, and choosing among the many types of social media. Make those choices based on your priorities and the time you wish to set aside for maintaining your online presence.
 

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