This post adds some further important suggestions for improving, repairing, and branding your online identity to one I wrote last month, Are You Into Self-Googling?
Consider what Dan Schawbel said a few days ago on his Personal Branding Blog. He recently coined the term “eBrand”, which he describes as “a digital representation of you on the internet.”
“I’m still holding onto my future prediction that instead of a resume, video resume, cover letter, portfolio, paper business card, and references document, your personal eBrand will exist as a single URL…In the future, you will need to compile, centralize and store these elements into a master website (yourname.com)…One URL will tell your complete story.”
He sees this career management practice being commonplace within the next 10 years. With so many people already marketing themselves as “theirname.com”, I think it may mainstream within fewer years than that.
With this in mind, here are two more suggestions to improve the way you manage your online identity or eBrand:
1. Claim your name online.
Purchase “yourname.com” before someone else does, even if you don’t quite know what to do with it yet. You can purchase a domain name for about $7-10 a year through registrars like Go Daddy. If you have a common name shared by others, your “firstnamelastname.com” may already be taken, so a little creativity is in order.
Here are the variations I could have used, if “megguiseppi.com” was not available when I purchased it a year ago (my middle name is “elise”):
I also purchased several misspellings of my last name, because historically so many people have gotten it wrong.
Hyphens between words (“meg-guiseppi.com”) are perfectly acceptable, but keep in mind that you will forever after have to remind people “Don’t forget to include the hyphen.” If they forget the hyphen, they’ll be led to someone else’s Website who shares your name.
It’s probably best to go for a dot-com, because most people will assume that’s what it is anyway. If you’ve exhausted all the viable possibilities for dot-coms, try for a dot-net instead of the newer extensions like dot-name or dot-info.
2. Sign up for Google Alerts for “your name”.
When you set up this useful (and free) service, you enter “your name” as the key words you want to receive alerts about. Google will send you an email when your name is published in something new on the Internet. They provide you the links to the Websites that have just recently included your name. This helps you monitor new information about yourself for accuracy and authentic e-branding, as it comes out.
Google Alerts is also valuable for gathering new information on any given topic or relevant key words. You can add as many words and/or phrases of interest to you as you’d like to your Google Alerts account. I’ve found this service extremely useful for researching and finding relevant topics to blog about.