I wanted to share the following blog with you that I wrote with Lori Milner about the importance of googling yourself, and understanding the digital brand you’re projecting.
Forget what people say about ‘vanity searching’ or ‘ego surfing’, to google yourself is neither about vanity nor ego. If you’re serious about your professional presence, about owning your space in the virtual world as much as you are about owning it in the physical world, googling yourself is an absolute necessity.
Whether you like it or not, it’s becoming standard practice for companies to google potential employees. In fact, it’s the first port of call before an interview is even conducted. If a company believes that your online persona doesn’t represent who they are, the chances are that you won’t get the opportunity to represent yourself in person.
And don’t think you’re safe from on-going online background checks even if you’re already gainfully employed. Increasingly, companies are placing more and more weight on how well their employees reflect the brand’s ethos online.
The dire consequences of negative posts or unprofessional profiles on the web are not just reserved to the highly publicized storms we’ve all heard about. It happens on a far less public scale too. Like the woman who was recently denied an internal promotion because the company felt that her Pinterest page contained some ‘suspect’ images.
If you’ve never googled yourself, do it now. Especially since Google has just made it easier for you to find out how you are depicted on the internet. Its new feature, a shortcut to personal account information that appears when you’re logged in and conduct a search of your own name, also makes it easier for you to manage privacy and security controls. You can edit what others see about you, and even ask to receive email notifications when your name is mentioned on the web.
People who are not conscious about their digital reputations are often surprised by how much information there is about them on the internet – and by how little of it is relevant to their professional profiles. Social media has become such an integral part of our culture and psyches that we almost feel obligated to document our lives and share it with others online.
However, if your virtual presence is dominated by what you had for lunch, what the weather is like, and how you can’t wait for the next weekend or day off, you have some work to do.
If navigated skillfully, the world of virtual interaction has a lot to offer. Despite its potential disadvantages, it’s a wonderful way to connect, to find others, and be found. There are plenty of smart opportunities that you can exploit to expand your professional presence, your network and your prospects.
In our coaching, we recommend LinkedIn as the channel of choice for professionals. It’s a rich source of knowledge sharing and an incredible platform to network and gain exposure. It is also a place where you can highlight who you are and position yourself as a thought leader through the articles that you publish, the content that you share, and the conversations that you contribute towards.
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, did it really fall?’. The modern day version is, ‘If you did something amazing and never posted it, did it really happen?’ Use LinkedIn to promote the successes in your career. Don’t ever shy away from the opportunity to show people your true value – because if you don’t tell them about it, you’ll probably never feature on the radar of people more influential than you.
Social media can be a very useful tool when it’s utilized with caution, respect, and accountability.
Always remember that everything you post can instantly boost or sabotage your personal brand. As soon as something exists in digital format, it is out of your control, so if you’re ever in any doubt, use Emma Sadleir’s ‘billboard test’. Imagine a giant billboard with your picture, your full name, and the company you work for. It’s there for all the world to see. Now imagine that what you’re about to post will appear on that billboard too. Do you still want to say it?
And once you’ve posted some of the intelligent things you have to say, once you’re done updating your LinkedIn profile and created an on-going plan for sharing and publishing content relevant to your career, once you’re done googling yourself… google yourself all over again.
Every six months.
Keep your digital reputation in check. Your career will thank you for it.