Have you Googled yourself lately? If you haven’t done a Google search on your name in the past 30 days, do it right now (and be sure to put your name in quotation marks).
Go ahead, I’ll wait…
OK, what do the results look like? Think about these questions:
- Is your name at the top of the list? Second?
Is it on the first page at least? Oh snap!
- How many times does it appear on the first page?
- Is your personal web site “above the fold?”
You don’t have a personal web site? Oh snap! More on that later.
- Is your blog “above the fold?”
Oh snap! You don’t have a blog? More on that later.
- Is your LinkedIn profile “above the fold?”
You don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Oh snap! More on that later.
- Is there any negative stuff on the first five pages?
What’s the Point?
Managing your online presence is an important component of personal brand management. Everyone knows how important online marketing is to companies and your career is no different. It’s not enough anymore to make yourself visible and differentiate yourself online. Since 45% of employers use social media sites to screen potential employees, you also need to make sure you keep negative information out of the search stream.
Bottom line: A strong online presence is clearly an advantage and can be a strong differentiator, but before long it will be as standard as handing over a resume before a job interview. No online profile, no consideration.
Sharon Reus (Insight Into Action) commented on this post and has a fantastic analogy. She calls this process “checking your digital reflection.” That’s a perfect description, because we all know that reflections can be horribly distorted or even overly flattering – and everything in between. The first order of business is to make sure you have any reflection at all. If you have no reflection, I suppose that makes you a digital vampire! Hmm, that would have been a great title. But if you do have a reflection, it’s important to make sure that it looks well.
What’s Your URL?
I discussed the idea of owning your own name (i.e. www.jondipietro.com) in my blog post “The 21st Century Lang Grab.” Time is rapidly running out on your ability to grab your own name, but I’m still amazed at how many successful people I meet who don’t own their name even though it’s available. If your name is not available, you need to get something in place even if it’s just to claim it for the time being. DO THIS TODAY!
You don’t need to have your own web site and/or blog in order to have a positive online presence. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Networked Blogs, and Ezine Articles are just a few of the great resources to build an online profile that gets you found and (hopefully) reflects well on you. You can use LinkedIn to post an online resume, and there is absolutely no excuse for not having a thorough profile completed there. Additionally, asking and answering questions is a good way to both build your online gravitas and expand your professional network.
Control Your Own Destiny
In the end, the best way to seize control of your online identity is to have your own website and/or blog. Although they can be one in the same, I recommend using your personal web site to create a compelling online resume and having a separate blog that demonstrates your passion whether it’s personal or professional. If you’re a passionate wine maker, blogging about it demonstrates your creativity, writing skills, and even your personality. It gives potential employers, customers, or business partners a level of comfort and familiarity they could never get through an interview alone.
My friend, Mike Walsh (see Mike’s LinkedIn profile or his @mike_walsh Twitter stream), has a series of really good posts on how he got started and what he learned along the way. If you are reluctant to start a blog, his posts may be the nudge you need to get started:
In additional to controlling your online persona, a personal website and blog give you a much greater opportunity to dominate the search results for your name and/or blog topic. The more high quality content you can create, the more links and comments you’ll generate and the higher your online reputation will get.
“There are 1.5 million graduating college students for 2009 and employers are only hiring 1.3% more of them. Differentiation through branding is imperative for success.”
Hartford Courant & WSJ (via Dan Schwabel)
This is your life and your career. You deserve every advantage you can possibly get – and in this economic climate you’ll need it!
If you need help pulling this off, feel free to contact me.