We all want to be found more easily online when our friends, potential clients and employers Google us. We’ve set up our LinkedIn profiles, started blogging, created websites, invited others to be our friends on Facebook and tweeted like crazy on Twitter. With all of these fragmented presences online, wouldn’t it be nice to have a directory of all the places we can be found, plus the option to include our email address, phone number and tags which help the right people find us and get in touch? That way, we could direct people to just one place to be referred to the various ways to contact us and find out what we’re up to. It’s sort of like a virtual phone book; you remember the phone book, don’t you? They used to be useful way back when, before we found contact information online and started using them only as doorstops and booster seats for kids not tall enough to reach the dining table.

There are plenty of easy ways to do this now. Each offers their own features and options for customization and discoverability. Among the options are:

Today, I am focusing on registering a .tel domain (you may be more familiar with other domains, such as .com, .net and .org). To help me understand the benefits of owning my .tel domain, I met with Vincent Largilliere of Digitrad, who was kind enough to walk me through the set-up. First, it is important to understand that registering a .tel domain is similar to registering any domain – it is not free, unlike the other sites I’ve listed above. For that fee, though, you have more control of your information because it is a completely different site, rather than just a page on someone else’s site. I encourage you to look at the features of each type of directory listing. There is no reason you can’t use more than one of the options above.

What is .tel?

From the Digitrad website:

(click image to enlarge)

The .tel allows you to store, publish and update online all your contact information and keywords under your unique domain name, without the need for a website

> For individuals, .tel is a business card fully secure and customizable.

> For companies, .tel is both a limited public directory open to customers, and a internal directory, complete and secure for you and your co-workers .

All the extensions are identical, .tel is different: classical extensions link a website to an address, .tel links an address to an identity. This is its specificity and main strength.

.tel will allow you to increase your visibility on the Internet, to optimize your referencing, but also and more importantly to manage your personal digital identity as you see it, with the flexibility and the security that you need

More information can be found on the Digitrad website here.

Want to register .tel for free?

Vincent has offered free registration of a .tel account for AlmostSavvy readers. If you’d like to grab a year’s free registration of your very own .tel account, take a look at the video and keep reading.

In the video, Vincent answers a few questions about the value of .tel and walks me through the set-up process. You’ll note that I had to do quite a bit of editing (it seems we both talk too much!).

Following our session, I continued the set-up process. Take a peek at IreneKoehler.tel now.

To get a code for free registration of your own .tel account, simply add a comment below sharing why you’d like to try it out. Be sure to add a valid email address in the appropriate field (that’s how I’ll get the code to you).

Many thanks to Vincent and Digitrad for offering free registration to AlmostSavvy readers to allow you to see for yourself how you might use it to your own best advantage to manage your online reputation and visibility.

Thanks also to the kind folks at the Skoll Foundation who loaned us their conference room to tape the interview above, and thanks to Adin Miller for connecting me with the Skoll Foundation.

Also, in the name of full disclosure, Vincent did buy me a crepe while I was in Paris attending LeWeb. The crepe was not in exchange for this blog post, but I understand that perception is everything. Frankly, if anyone ever wanted to compensate me for a blog post, I’d hope the going rate would be something greater than one crepe and an offer to give blog readers a discount code. Evidence of said crepe.