The Importance of a Strong Online Presence [The Zed Shaw Case]

Zed Shaw ImageToday I was reading through my usual news sources on the train when I stumbled across this article by Zed Shaw on Hacker News. Aptly titled “I’m Moving To San Francisco, I Need A Job,” the well-known programmer (and nemesis to Ruby on Rails developers everywhere) announces that he’s moving from NYC and wants to be situated with a job and a place by September 1st.

For the normal individual, if he or she made that type of post on his or her personal blog, nobody would hear, and thus nobody would listen. But that won’t be the case for Zed Shaw. He’s going to get interviews every day he’s in SF and he’s going to have the leverage to choose a company and a job that suits him – not to mention compensation.

So why can he do this? Why does he have this type of leverage? Two comments in the Hacker News thread caught my attention:

This is why having a well-known online presence is important.

It’s worth noting that it’s an online presence backed by serious code, which makes Zed worth listening to (and hiring). It seems like many online presences have the attitude without supplying the code.

  • Zed has strong visibility in programming and technology circles. His up-front nature, his blogging, and his wit have all earned him an online persona.
  • Zed can back it up with some damn good code (*cough*Mongrel*cough*

His abilities are the foundation of his online image, but his communication skills cannot be underestimated either. Combined, they allow him to do this sort of thing. And there are plenty of other people who can do the same thing if they need to get a job, recruit new employees, etc.

I cannot stress enough the importance of building an online presence. Yes, it can be egotistical, but only if you let that happen. You may think it’s not important, but when you’re handed a pink slip without a large network to tap into, you’ll be regretting it.

I’ll write a more detailed post on building your online presence in the future, but in the meantime, keep networking, keep writing, keep tweeting, and stay relevant.

Oh, and most importantly, build something of value. There is a reason people listen to Zed, after all.

[Image thanks to Adewale Oshineye on Flickr]