Do you Google yourself? If your answer is no, then I would be curious as to why you would not. With all the immediate access we have to information about others, we can not forget that they have just as much easy access to information about ourselves. Much like a manufacturer performing quality assurance checks, a quick search on yourself is an imperative part of controlling the quality of your personal brand.
What I FOUND
By typing my name into a search engine, in just a few minutes I learned more about myself than I knew existed. For example, not only do I have multiple images for a LinkedIn profile, but I am an accomplished musician in the UK. I happen to also be a photographer in Denver, while still able to be a business executive in Boston, a sales rep in Philadelphia and an assistant to a research team in Japan. Wow! I am a much busier person than I ever knew. Sadly, I was also made aware that I was taken before my time in 2013 which has me appreciating every stolen minute I am able to still enjoy on this planet. Though it was said that my humor, dignity, and passion for life were never diminished and live on.
If you did not figure it out by now I am apparently not ‘Andy Vargo the one and only!’ However, it was pleasing to see that my own LinkedIn profile was near the top of the search results, and when clicking on the ‘images’ and ‘news’ tabs, a few of my posts were among the list.
I suggest clicking on both of these when looking into yourself or others as each tab offers a different perspective on what you may find. Even better, was that when I typed my name and the word ‘resume’, all the top results were relevant and current, even showing slides from my SlideShare resume.
What I Did NOT Find
Among the pages of images, news and web results, I did not find any damaging reports, photos from a Saturday night party, or over-opinionated comment on a site I now regret joining. There were no weekend images of me on the beach looking less than fit, and no court reports from past damaging circumstances.
Now in my case, this is primarily due to my lifestyle being one that has not put me in these situations in the first place. That said, if I were to find less than stellar results, I would be better off knowing what is out there to be seen so I could begin the process of either cleaning it up or preparing myself to defend against it should the circumstance arise. Should you find damaging information on yourself, it may at the very least be a reminder for you to think twice before posting or sharing going forward. If needed, for a few resources to help clean up your brand, click here.
Understand The REASONS
While on a recent job search I employed my search engine tactics to review several potential employers as well as those I would be working for and with. For myself, this was as much an exercise in understanding their culture as it was in double-checking the character of those I may be teaming up with. It was interesting to find the amount of information on each company and individual. I often wondered if they were aware of the information online about them. In one interview I questioned the company’s online reviews as a point of discussion in my quest to understand their culture. While in another I referred to their lack of internet presence as a hindrance to understanding them better.
In today’s age of access to information, people will look you up without giving it a second thought. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
But what if your first impression is already out there before you ever have the chance to meet? Whether you are a company working to build the best culture and product, or an individual networking in your industry, protecting and enhancing your brand presence is key to your success. To that end, here are just a few reasons to search yourself out.
- Discover damaging or negative product reviews
- Discover damaging or negative employee reviews
- Discover unflattering personal images or comments
- Ensure a positive web presence for your company or personal brand
- Verify contact information is correct if others seek you out (assuming you want to be found)
- Verify contact information is hidden if others seek you out (assuming you do not want to be found)
- Understand your web positioning as it relates to your competition
Employ a few TACTICS
As with any search you may run, your results will vary based on the input you list for the search criteria. Below are just a few examples of different ways to search for yourself or others to get different results.
- Search by your name in different forms (Andy, Andrew, Drew)
- Search with your name and any keywords relative to your history
- Search by your name in combination with the name of any associations you have been involved (schools, businesses, clubs)
- Search by your name and location (include previous locations as well)
- Search by your email address or any user ID handles you have used on blog sites or social media groups (this may reveal comments you have shared and forgotten)
- Try to find negative results by typing your name plus a negative word that you may be associated with (with companies, for example, try the company name and ‘lawsuit’ or ‘complaint’)
- When reviewing companies or products search by the name and add the word ‘review’
Time to GO LEARN
So now it is your turn. I can not tell you what you may find (unless of course, you are on the shortlist of those I just researched). However, I can tell you that it is important for you to take a look into the ‘Google Mirror’ to see what reflects back. Like protecting your identity I recommend checking into your internet presence at least a few times per year. Companies should do so with even more regularity, both reviewing product, and service reviews, as well as looking for employee reviews and news feeds. So go research yourself and have fun while you learn more about the one and only you!
Thank you for continuing to explore with me as we strive to position ourselves as best we can in this world. I appreciate each ‘like’ and ‘share’ as it helps me understand what you look forward to reading.
Did you find any surprising discoveries in your search? Please share in the comments below.