Where’s the first place you go if you want to research a potential new employee? Or a college applicant? Or a first date? Or a new business partner? Chances are your first thought is Google. You’re in good company, along with the approximately one billion unique visitors who use Google every month. Scary, huh? It doesn’t have to be. You need to think of yourself as a brand. Like Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Walmart and other iconic American companies, in the 21st century you need to think like a CEO to manage your personal brand.
Consider these statistics:
- 46% of Internet users search online to find information about people from their past.
- 38% of Internet users have sought information about their friends.
- 70% of colleges say that the Facebook profiles of candidates are a medium or high priority in the college admissions process.
- 63% of HR recruiters refer to social media websites when deciding whether or not to hire you.
- 16% of all Internet users have looked online for more information about someone they were dating or in a relationship with.
So how do you transform yourself from a mild mannered desk jockey into a high-powered CEO of your own personal brand? When you’re branding yourself, It just takes a little marketing magic. And I’m revealing some of the best kept secrets…
1. Effectively engage in LinkedIn and other professional networking sites: The best way to enhance your personal brand is to engage in professional networking sites! Have a positive, active presence on LinkedIn – this includes a photo, bio, employment history and some personal connections – this will help you get found for the right reasons when you are Googled.
2. Keep your personal life private: Don’t panic if your Facebook friend tags you in an unflattering photo. Take back your Facebook reputation by untagging yourself from photos and deleting inappropriate comments on your posts. You won’t see Coca Cola spilling their secret recipe online – some things are best kept in a lockbox. At the same time, it’s ok to have a little bit of fun with your Facebook page, as long as you know how to make it private. I recently wrote about how to change your Facebook privacy settings.
3. Stay on top of “online terrorism”: Ever date a crazy person? Or work with an overly jealous co-worker? Or dated a crazy, overly jealous co-worker? We need to talk. Some people may take the idea of a Mean Girls-style Burn Book a bit too far and post negative statements about you online. Whether these comments are blatantly false or private information that you want unseen, it’s a good idea to Google yourself before someone else does. If you are a victim of online terrorism, you can fight back. Which leads me to my final point…
4. Find the best online reputation management company: Yes, even individuals can benefit from retaining an online reputation management company. The job, college and dating markets are fierce, and you know that people will be Googling you, so you need to be proactive in enhancing your positive online image. You can do it yourself… But then again you can also pull out your own wisdom teeth. Some things are best left to professionals. An online reputation management company can quickly and confidentially remove negative posts from the first pages of Google and promote positive content online, so people get to know the “real” you!
Have a personal story about personal branding or online reputation management? Tell us in the comments below.