Do you research people before meeting them? Reviewing a LinkedIn or Google profile of a client or colleague before you meet gives you valuable insight into their career history and interests. It can help bring tremendous perspective and points of common interest for discussion.
So what are others finding out when they research you? What information will they find? What if Google doesn’t return anything on you, or worse, something undesirable?
In our digital age, it’s crucial to check in and “ego surf” – periodically check what Google is saying, or not saying, about you. You can bet that others are looking so take charge of what they will find. Here are some tips for making sure they find what you want them to find in the most likely places:
LinkedIn Account – One of the most powerful networks for connecting to other professionals in any industry, LinkedIn is an essential profile tool. You can start by building a profile to show your experience, expertise and associations. Then dive further by joining groups and engaging in conversations in your particular field.
Google / Yahoo Profile – Both Google and Yahoo have easy public profiles that typically show up on the first page of search results. You can add or link any information that you want to be found in a search for you – your business websites, blog, photo, other profiles, etc.
Buy the URL of your name – Even if you do nothing with it right away, own the domain name that is your name. When you’re ready, this can be the ultimate destination for an online profile of you, your skills and expertise.
Facebook & Twitter – These networking sites offer you visibility both personally and professionally. They also typically rank high in search engines and are some of the best places to let your audience know who you are. Just remember to keep both professional and personal audiences in mind – don’t ever post anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer or client to find.
Once you’ve got your feet wet with the basic profiles, you can take it a step further to build even more credibility in your desired space. If you are building your personal brand as a thought leader or expert in a field, you want to be found as a publisher and contributor of ideas, engaged in the relevant discussions online:
Host a blog – For little and possibly zero cost, you can publish a blog on your desired topic or field of expertise. If you’re new to blogging, fear not! There are countless resources for helping you build and design your blog, produce engaging content, and market and share your ideas.
Post How-To Videos on YouTube – Another highly visible outlet for sharing your knowledge is to publish a video on YouTube. Publish short (2-3 minute) helpful, educational videos and market them in your niche. As viewers find value, you’ll see them share and even embed your video on their blogs – increasing your audience and helping to build credibility.
Join the conversation – The online world requires the same communication ethics that the real world does – conversations require dialogues, not monologues. Find relevant blogs and keep in touch with what others are saying. Add your comments and engage in the conversation.
Create a Google Alert – As your activity increases online, keep tabs on where you pop up and what others might be saying about you with a Google Alert. Set one up for your name, your business name, and any other topics of interest that you don’t want to miss.
Building credibility and building an online reputation takes time and effort, but the payoff is that your target audience can easily find you – they know who you are, what you stand for and what you do best! The opportunity is too great (as are the risks) to leave your online reputation to chance.