More and more professionals create their own web-sites highlighting their professional experience, elaborating on their skills, including their publications and simply marketing themselves. A Marketing Specialist from Toronto has recently reached out to me to ask if, according to my professional opinion, there is a value to such sites. I certainly think there is, as long as your strategy behind it fits the message you are communicating!
Even if you already have an online presence on the main social media outlets (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook), your own site will give you the opportunity to bring all of the information together and present it in the format of your choice. You can include your resume, publications, reference letters and samples of your work. If you are a graphic designer, a marketer or a communications specialist, for example, you can showcase your portfolio. By including a link to your personal site on your resume, you will give a potential employer the opportunity to review your work and possibly be impressed prior to even speaking with you. It can most definitely make your candidacy appear stronger when in the running for a new position.
However, if executed poorly, your site can do damage instead of being a value-add. Here are common mistakes to avoid:
          Not being clear with who your target audience is. In order to customize the content of your site, you need to choose if you are targeting professionals in your field or friends and family. This will help you design the site and shape your message accordingly. If your primary objective is professional networking, you should definitely abstain from posting personal pictures and updates.
          Not staying true to yourself. A catchy or funny content on your site can definitely be attention-grabbing and make a favourable first impression. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone is naturally funny or eloquent with their written communication skills. Know what your strengths are. If your writing style is dry, no problem – don’t force yourself to come up with “clever jokes” or “catchy phrases”. It might look awkward and turn the reader off.
          Not utilizing your site to its full potential. I have in the past received resumes with links to candidates’ personal sites that contained solely a brief introduction and their resumes. There is no value to having such a site since all of this information is already in the resume! Your personal site should be there to add to your personal brand, not mirror what you already communicated.
          Not making the site uniquely about you. The focus of your personal site should not be on your employer or other people in your network. If your goal is to market and brand yourself, stay true to it instead of branching out and not communicating a clear message.
Having a personal web-site is definitely not a must and creating one with no strategy in mind is useless. As with everything else you do to build your online presence and shape your personal brand, try to look at it through other professionals’ eyes and build on your uniqueness and your strengths. 
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