DavidCohen.com and being a small business

Did you know that I’m a futurist?  Well I was in a futurists club for a while.  I like future-y things like blogs, and websites, and personal branding, and I want you to like them too.  I want you to like them because they are really now things, and they can help your career and your business.

Yes, I’ll confess that even futurists like me occasionally indulge in old-fashioned habits like nestling deep into the sofa with an actual, non-virtual, magazine and of course, a cat.  I enjoy the tactile quality of riffling through the printed pages, and the cat seems to enjoy sitting on my chest. It is her way of reassuring me that despite all the changes and stresses of the information age she still cares for me deeply, even more deeply when it is drafty on the floor.

Generally this sidestepping of the digital now works out quite well for naps (for me and the cat) and it is certainly better for uninterrupted reading than trying to plow through an online document with Ms. Trixie padding restlessly back and forth across the keyboard of my laptop – cats are so helpful. However, avoiding the now is not better for business.

So, as I hinted, I was on the sofa beginning to get drowsy-eyed under the influence of all the feline warmth and non-digital purring when my gaze alit upon a quote. The quote comes from Reid Hoffman, creator of LinkedIn, from a tangible article in Business Week, now well-riffled in my hands. “Essentially,” Mr. Hoffman says, “every individual is a small business.”

Yes at first glance it may seem to be a modest quote.  Certainly brief. In fact it failed to impress the cat, but Trixie is not known for her business acumen.  I, on the other hand have a reputation to think of, and I quite like the quote – first off, it begins with “Essentially” and secondly, it is a sentiment that has been presaged by some of my favorite business thinkers, like Seth Godin and Tom Peters:  The reality of our collective now is that today you may work for somebody else, but first and foremost you are in the business of being you.

As some have said, you are CEO of Brand You Inc. A thought that the cat found most perturbing as it was inspiring enough to get me up off the couch (disrupting her carefully kneaded perch) and over to the computer so that I might compose this post.  You don’t think these new-fangled blogs just appear out of thin air do you?

So what does all of this have to do with DavidCohen.com? Well if you are the CEO of Brand You Inc., then I am the CEO of Brand Me.  And as CEO of my own brand I figured I should own the company website.   Fortunately for me that thought first occurred to me about 14 years ago, when davidcohen.com was still an available domain. My new friend, Nadia Bilchik, was quite impressed by this. Nadia is a dynamic individual, a speaker, trainer, and news anchor (you may have seen her on CNN).  She is also the CEO of the brand Nadia Bilchik so naturally she has the domain nadiabilchik.com – Her domain was a more recent acquisition than mine, but she admits there was less competition to get the name. FYI “David Cohen” is a common name, the jewish equivalent of “John Smith”. “Nadia Bilchik” is about as common as, well, “Nadia Bilchik”.

So what am I trying to tell you?  I’m trying to tell you that my friend the energy author, Jon Gordon, has jongordon.com, and my friend Jeff Pulver the godfather of VoIP, has jeffpulver.com, and Melissa Galt, the interior designer who helps people design their lives has, melissagalt.com, and you better believe that personal branding guru Dan Schawbel has danschawbel.com. Want to guess what domains Tom Peters and Seth Godin have? You know who doesn’t have her own domain?  Trixie doesn’t have her own domain, but then again she’s a cat.  Cats can’t type, even though right now she thinks she is doing a great job of helping me write this post.

If you are not a cat, then there is a good chance that you actually work for somebody else, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a little virtual space for yourself. The price of running a website gets cheaper every day, the price of a personal domain is minimal compared to the advantages of having a findable platform where you can position yourself to the rest of the world.  And BTW it is a competitive world, and with all the uncertainty in the economy it is only going to be more so. There is no better time than right now to claim your virtual turf, if for no other reason than to put up your own virtual billboard extolling all the virtues of Brand You.

If you’re lucky and have an uncommon name you might still be able to get something like yourname.com (but it won’t sit around waiting for you), and if you do have a common name don’t be discouraged. Get creative! Try initials, or middle names, or add “Mr” or “Ms”.  And don’t forget about Mr. Reid Hoffman – be sure to visit his site and make your LinkedIn profile and when you do be sure to give the public profile a friendly name, like, um, oh I don’t know, maybe something along the lines of http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidscohen. And don’t be bothered that some David Cohen in London beat you to http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidcohen. Really I’m fine with it. It’s only an “s”. No big deal. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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