When was the last time you Googled yourself? I spoke at a conference recently about digital presence and the importance of building and stabilizing personal brands. I asked the audience of 120+ a similar version of that same question: How many of you have Googled yourselves? No hands went up. Then I asked: How many of you have Googled yourselves at all? Still, no hands went up. In an audience of over 120 people.
Now, the accuracy of this method may not have been 100% reliable. People don’t necessarily like attention drawn to them in public or they simply wait to see what everyone else does before they make a move, but, even still, in an audience of that size, if one or two hands went up, I’d still be taken aback. Why? The internet sees and remembers everything and you need to be your own gatekeeper. The internet drives business and newcomers don’t typically take to old, outdated or inappropriate information. Even worse, if they can’t find you (and find you quick), they can’t find your business and will seek what they need elsewhere.
Before you take steps to grow your business, you need to first button up your personal brand. Your digital footprint legitimizes your business. If you want to see growth in both avenues, your personal brand needs to exist AND it needs to be as positive as possible or you risk jeopardizing business progress. Your digital footprint defines your online reputation. Your online reputation affects your business’s reputation.
What impacts your online reputation?
- The social media channels you own (both active and inactive).
- Followers, friends and/or strangers who have mentioned or tagged you online.
- The content (or lack of content) that you contribute in the digital space.
Now, let’s see if your personal brand could use some work. Try this two-step method:
1. Google your first and last name TWICE. First, search just your name then, search it again with your name in quotation marks.
Search 1: First Last
Search 2: “First Last”
Quotation marks limit your search to the exact terms you indicate. Without quotations, Google tends to pull FIRST and LAST separately showing you all content on the web affiliated with those terms. Essentially, the quotation search vets your results to just the ones you indicate BUT it never hurts to see the big picture as well with a general search – hence the need for two. Also, don’t feel limited to just two searches. The more the better! These are simply the top two I recommend.
2. Do you come up in the Google search? YES or NO.
If NO….try searching your name with your city. If you still find nothing, it’s time to get to work.
- How far down in the search is your name? If you’re not on the first or second page, you have some work to do.
- Do you know exactly where you are on the internet? What websites pop up? If they’re not ones you want to be affiliated with, you need to get busy populating the ones you do.
- What photos show up? If they’re not of you or they’re of you and they’re not favorable, it’s time to find out where they live and revamp those pages.
- Does your business pop up anywhere along with your name? Consider why or why not.
So, why is this critical to your personal and professional success? The answer: Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is and you could be missing significant opportunities to grow your business. A professional presence projects that you are reliable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. It also proves to your customers that your business, like you, reflects similar characteristics. It’s imperative that you position yourself online as the expert in your field so that your customers are able to put a face to a name – this creates authenticity and increases brand equity. There are so many simple steps you can take to properly polish up your digital footprint but, first, you need to take the step.