Managing your online brand

Posted: June 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

In 2 days time (from writing) Facebook are making named URLs available (eg http://www.facebook.com/johnsmith). This got me to thinking about online personal branding.

Company branding is often given careful consideration, but how about your own personal brand. This is the brand that sticks with you as you move between companies and it can make or break your career.

As everything moves online so does our brand. When I get CVs submitted to me I reach for Google and all of the skeletons fall out. I read a great CV last week then checked out the applicant’s Linkedin profile. It included his personal business site which I flipped open. It was the standard embarrassing one-man band approach, “We are bla bla consulting and we listen to what you want”. The problem is the site didn’t tell me anything good but it did tell me a whole lot of bad things – some of the styles were broken and overall it looked like a dog’s breakfast. The CV went into the bin and I went on to other applicants.

You could imagine a different outcome if I had found something like a blog with a long history of well thought-out content and technical comment. So, in this case, his online profile was more important that 10 years of work history.

I would make the assumption that every time you meet a business contact for the first time or submit a CV, your personal brand will be ruthlessly hunted across the net.

This makes it critical to manage what people will dig up, as carefully as you would (should) craft your CV. To do this you need to own your brand online and to put time into keeping it polished.

Own your Results

You should aim to own the top block of results for your name on Google. This way you can control how people experience your personal brand. For example if you’re a designer you want people to experience great design or if you’re a developer relevant technical content.

To do this you want to build a carefully managed collection of sites. Some examples are:
1. A linkedin profile
2. Your own site
3. Blog
4. Twitter

Own the property

When gmail came out how many people thought it was necessary to get your name as an email address…..yup and now you’re bobsmith.4.Washington. That’s right, you didn’t think it was important and now you’re paying the price!

I’ve had to convince people to purchase their own names as URLs. If your name is available you need to buy it! For the price of a lunch and a little time you now own the top result for your own name. If you don’t want to use it now, just park it. If it’s available now it won’t be soon and you will NEVER get it back.

The same applies for other technologies like the newly released Google profiles. I can’t tell you how this will be relevant but it’s a couple of minutes to claim your name and make sure its yours for ever.

In 2 days time Facebook will make named URLs available. This means you’ll be able to get http://www.facebook.com/yourName. This might not appeal now but is a good way of claiming some space before the 1000 other John Smiths grab it first.

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