So, using some tips from Part I I hope you’ve ‘designed’ your platform and now it’s time to build it. You still have some choices to make – you need to determine what your platform is going to look like and, from that decision, which tools you are going to use to build it.
Let me explain – if you’re going to build a doghouse for your favourite pooch versus an awesome and much more complex playhouse for your kids you’re likely going to need the same basic sets of skills and supplies. But to build the playhouse you’re going to need more time, higher quality and a greater quantity of materials and probably a more advanced level of expertise and perhaps even some special tools.
I would suggest that even the most simple of platforms should consist of at least a single component and that this should be static. By this I mean that even if you want to go as ‘bare bones’ as possible you should create some kind of web presence that is relatively unchanging (static) even if it is as simple as the profiles offered at no cost by the folks at about.me (David Caughran is using the site very effectively I think ). A Facebook or LinkedIn profile could fulfill the same purpose as could a Tumblr site.
A more complicated platform could consist of both static components (about.me, Facebook profile, LinkedIn, blog) as well as dynamic (Google+, Twitter, FourSquare). If you were building a more full-featured platform you might want to spend lots more time ‘fleshing’ out your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles than you would if you were just aiming for basic.
I’m not going to go into any detail (other than naming them earlier in this post) about the tools you are going to use to build your platform. Rather I’d suggest that you take a peek at this excellent Social Media 101 article from PC Magazine. Then I think the best thing to do is just dive in. It’s also good in the beginning (in my opinion) to just observe. Just like when you were a kid the number one way to get a feel for the culture and unwritten (and unspoken) rules of a place is to keep your ears open and your mouth (mostly) shut.
It’s also helpful to look to those in your community (by this I mean geographical area although it could also be by occupation or demographic) that are doing great stuff. For example here in Victoria you could look to see who were the nominees and then the eventual winners for the West Coast Social Media awards in 2011 . There are also lots of folks doing an awesome jobs with their personal platforms here in Victoria. Have a look at the sites of Angela Rafuse-Tahir , Janis La Couvée , David Caughran and Mike Vardy . (I have barely mentioned LinkedIn in this post but will devote a whole two or three part post to it in the next few weeks).
It might be difficult to determine when you start out how this nebulous ‘platform’ thing is going to help you find a job. I think that seeing the platform as an online resume is a big mistake. Instead see it as a networking tool of the 21st century as well as a way to serve your community. Use it to showcase what you’re passionate about and your accomplishments. When someone asks a question online that you know the answer to step up and respond and consider making a blog post or Facebook wall entry/Google+ post about it – chances are if one person has a question on a topic others will too. I am positive that when you construct your platform with integrity and a sense of community you will reap rewards that extend far beyond the online world.
Here are some additional resources that will get your platform ideas flowing:
- Seven Best Practices for Building an Online presence – this is intended for writers but I think there are valuable tips for everyone in this article
- Five Steps to building a platform when you hate selling yourself – boy, I’m sure most people can relate to that title
- Once you’ve built it how do you think it looks/feels/functions – this article might help you assess your online platform
Finally, remember that as miraculous as the Internet and social media are nothing will ever replace face-to-face and real-life interaction. Here’s a thought-provoking post about doing real ‘social good’.
Oh, and if you are still wondering whether or not you really need to get involved in all this social media and platform stuff – I think this video on socialnomics will convince you.