Not concerned about your online identity and what others will find when they search your name? You should be. Searching “your name” (in quotes) on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines on a regular basis is not a frivolous waste of time or an exercise in vanity.
“Googlitis”, that persistent need to see how many and what kind of results come up, is actually a best-practice for job search and career management.
“Google yourself. If you’re a salesperson, your prospects already do. If you’re looking for a job, your prospective employers already do. If you’ve got a job, your co-workers already do.”
What do you find when you self-Google? How many results are there that actually apply to you and not someone with the same name? Which of your results come up within the first 10 or so, if you have that many results? Are all your results the kind of information you want prospective or current employers, or anyone else for that matter, finding out about you? Can any of this information ruin your chances to be considered for an opportunity that is important to you?
If your search results include anything undesirable that will discredit you, you’ll need to run damage control and start bringing in desirable results at the top of the list, which will eventually push the bad stuff down to the bottom.
If little or no results come up when you self-Google, you’re starting with a clean slate and you have the opportunity to build a stellar on-brand online presence. Concentrate on building the kind of results that will have positive impact and give a great impression of you to those deciding whether or not to hire you or do business with you.
Here are some ways to get your name online that will build the good results you’re looking for:
Writing a strong, branded personal profile for LinkedIn and other appropriate online social networking sites. Your profile(s) on these sites usually rank very high in search results. Carefully craft your profile(s) to support your brand and present yourself in the most compelling way.
Joining relevant professional associations. Join and get involved with industry-relevant associations that have a strong web presence. Your involvement will help build your network too.
Blogging and publishing relevant content on websites. Contribute to blogs and websites related to your areas of expertise. Be sure you’re given credit for your contributions and have your name appear as it will be Googled.
Writing reviews of relevant books on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc. Once you publish a review on a bookseller’s site, it’s picked up quickly and the review will be published on other bookseller sites too, instantly multiplying your results.
Consider launching your own website and/or blog. Nothing builds credibility like a website and especially a blog, because they’re constantly refreshed with new content. Both also offer an easily-accessible place for people to find out what you want them to know about you. Blogging requires a commitment to post on a frequent basis – at least once a week is best – so this may not be for you.
Sending out press releases about workshops or presentations you’ve given, or other contributions you’ve made to your community. If you include some helpful information in the press release, not just a glowing report about how wonderful you are, it will likely be picked up.
All of these suggestions take time to put into action, but the results you’ll get in your Google results will be worth it and can make an enormous difference in how you’re perceived by others who are interested in you.