Managing your professional identity online



February is GRAD Mental Health Awareness Month, and Dartmouth’s Graduate Student Council and the School of Graduate and Advanced Studies collaborated to offer a series of events for grads to raise awareness about graduate student mental health.  As part of that series, Barbara and I offered the “Managing your professional identity online” workshop, which took place on February 15th.  We had about 15 graduate students join us in Berry Library over a complimentary lunch and conversations about tools to help ease their minds about their online identities.

One of the first things we emphasize when we run this workshop is the fact that whether we like it or not, we all have an online identity.  The question is: “Is our online identity saying what we want and need it to say about us?” Last week’s session began with an exercise where participants pair up and “google” each other’s names.  After a few minutes, we discuss their findings, whether the information was accurate, and if they encountered surprises. Most often, our workshop participants discover information about someone else who shares their same name, and they wonder how to handle that.  

An important first step in managing our professional identities online is to disambiguate our names from other people who share the same name and who also may share similar work or personal characteristics.  ORCID is a non-profit organization with the goal to help researchers, scholars, and professionals do just that.  Last week, we helped each of our participants create an ORCID, and if they already had one, we helped them understand how to quickly populate their ORCID with their publication citations, professional achievements, as well as work and educational experiences. This information along with the unique ID that ORCID assigns when you create an account make a significant impact on how quickly and effectively others find you and your work when they search online.  Once you have an ORCID, you include it as a link on your personal website or even in your professional email signature, and this serves as another easy pathway to an accurate representation of your online self.  Creating an ORCID is quick, easy, and free!

Of course, managing your professional identity online goes beyond creating an ORCID, so we also offer advice about how and where to establish an online presence (e.g., on a website, on twitter, on a department page, etc.). Our online identities and circumstances are all unique, so we make sure to take time during the session to address the specific questions and needs of our participants.  This leads to interesting conversation, and I often come away from these sessions having also learned something more about how to better communicate and convey my professional self online.

If you are interesting in learning more about ORCID and how to manage your professional identity online, please stop by our “What’s the Buzz?: Publishing, Copyright, and Open Scholarship” session this week in Berry Library’s, Novack 73 study room on Wednesday, February 21st from 1:30-2:00pm.  It’s a monthly drop-in session, and this month I will be there to show ORCID to anyone who wants to learn more.  Hope to see you then!

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