Have you ever Google’d yourself to see if your name appears in the results? Wonder what others such as prospective employers see when they search your name? Many of you may cringe as you think back to some of those embarrassing photos on Myspace, Facebook, or Flikr. Here’s the reality —
Your resume and your personal brand are no longer what you email or physical send or hand to a person. In fact, as I heard via @lyngraft, your resume is the Google search results of your name.
With that said, how do you control what folks see? How do you increase the likelihood they find links and content that will improve someone’s perception of you. You are a brand. You need to control it. As stated by 123 Social Media, ”Everything you do as a communicator—including those things you choose not to do—sends a message about your personal and professional image.” This is what PR and Marketing folks do all day. Below are a few links on Personal Branding worth reading:
While search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search has been available for years for businesses, what do individuals do? Or in my case, consultants, authors and speakers. Stop right now and Google “Mike D. Merrill”. Note that every result in the top 10 right now returns something related to me. My goal here is not to brag about the results. The point here is that it is possibleto manage what results are returned. I have intentionally worked to improve the results. More importantly, most of these, are as of the last 3 months. Now, that being said, what if folks don’t know my name. What if you want to be found by a search of “Social Media Consultant”. That is where the real effort and investment comes in. Search engine optimization requires an investment of time and energy. I suggest @JamesFraze if you are interested.
Don’t fear though. There are ways to start working the results in your favor. Additionally, many of the social media sites you use will go far beyond just improving your search results. They will enable you to improve how you provide value to the community as a whole. People want to associate with like-minded individuals. I have always felt, if you want to be successful, hang around successful people.
10 Ways to Improve Your Personal Brand Online
Make a choice to control your personal brand and improve chances that people can find you on the web. If anything, it is always a good time to network. Much like setting goals for your career, health and relationships, set a goal to invest a little time understanding how these tools can not only help you promote yourself, but also how you can use these for a variety of sales, marketing, and job search tactics. Look for future blog posts on goal setting as well as I have some personal breakthroughs in this area as of late.
Join Linkedin.com, Facebook and Twitter right away. Many folks I have met have joined Linkedin only to say now what. I could spend hours on that. In fact, you’ll probably see numerous blog posts on just that subject. Linked in allows you to feature much more content that you could on a resume. Make sure to take the time to create a full summary, skills, and job history. Anything beyond 15 years is really not necessary if you are an seasoned professional as it just isn’t relevant. Use key words that recruiters would use to find folks in your industry. Any job site will list these for you. Facebook is a great vehicle to connect with folks you already know and reinforce those relationships. Twitter… Well, you just have to do it to understand. I believe this is more for businesses than for social uses, but we’ll see how this medium evolves. The important thing about Twitter is that it is another marketing tool to help drive awareness and brand.
Get your own domain name.It’s so easy to get your own domain name these days. While many of the names will be taken, you can still use others such as .net, .me, etc. I have used Godaddy.com for a long time. Once you have your own domain you can get an email such as firstname.lastname@example.org. There are still a lot of people using hotmail, gmail, etc. Not a problem, but you sure do miss a chance to brand yourself. I will often hear folks say, “I just use my work email”. That’s all fine and good, but what happens when you leave or get downsized. That’s why you see so many folks with multiple profiles on linkedin.com. They can’t get into the account they had with only their work email.
Review books you have read on Amazon.com. They also have a way to create a profile. One of my earliest search results on Google were from a few reviews I did.
Comment on blogs you read. Expecially if they are in your field. I heard it once said that just having an opinion is a way to exercise leadership. Once you have setup Linkedin, you can leave your URL in each post so you direct folks back to you.
Blog. Perfection is the enemy of the good. I have been planning to launch a self-hosted blog but kept holding off until I could host it myself, figure out all the twitter widgets, etc. . I should have just started writing. I did launch a personal blog as well at http://mikedmerrill.wordrpress.com. With WordPress and other platforms it’s frankly so easy to get started. Many folks say, well what would I write about? No matter what your profession, you have insight into your industry. If not, you have opinions on your hobbies. Write about something you are passionate about. Of course, there are ways to make money via ads and such, but for most people they never reach the # of readers they need to become a professional blogger. But if that’s your goal go for it. Google Adwords and SEO will become your life.
Create and join profiles on Plaxo, Naymz, and ZoomInfo. These are other somewhat popular sites. I do not frequent these but one more way to help people find you.
Create a Profile on Digg. Once you have a login, you can Digg certain blog stories you read helping driving up the rank so other see it.
Google Alerts. Google has a great new feature where you can create an alert anytime. “Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.” Great way to monitor when other results get added
Get followers and connections. The more followers you get on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, the better search results you will get.
Hopefully you found this insightful. More importantly, take action. The smallest action is far better than the greatest intention. Please comment on this as well.
Mike Merrill is Director of Marketing at ReachLocal and Chief Bacon Maker and Marketing Strategist of Bacon Marketing. He is also Chairman of the Social Media Club of Dallas and co-organizer of Ignite Dallas.