An indisputable fact of modern digital life is that we’re all highly searchable by just about anyone looking for information. And when it comes to our professional lives, it becomes even more relevant: bosses, hiring managers, recruiters, and others may have a glimpse into our histories when we don’t even know we’re on someone’s radar. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your personal brand, particularly online, is in good shape.
Google yourself regularly
If you want to get a sense of what’s attached to your name, it’s super easy to do—all you have to do is a quick search. It’s not an ego thing; it’s a maintenance thing. If you’ve already done some social media or personal brand cleanup in the past, you’re likely not to see anything truly alarming (those inappropriate party photos from school, perhaps?), but you should look for lesser “sins,” like outdated information and stagnant profiles. What are the first results? Are they active social media profiles, or the LinkedIn profile you haven’t touched in months?
And if you do find things you’d rather not be public, you have the opportunity to do damage control. You can’t always control what people are saying about you, but you can put limits on what parts of your personal social media profiles are available for public search. You can untag yourself in others’ Facebook posts. You can also try to crowd out old or not-great information by building up a more robust online presence under your own name. That way, your pro-Justin Timberlake manifesto from high school becomes maybe the 10th result in your search results, not the first. Blog posts under your own name are a good start (making them relevant to your brand, of course). Creating your own website is a good step as well if you want to push less relevant results off the page and feature your more recent good work.
After you’ve done a search engine audit for what comes up under your name, you can set up Google alerts that will let you know if any new results are coming up under your name or related search criteria. That makes it easier to maintain on an ongoing basis.
Do frequent social media sweeps
Content is the key to your personal brand, so make sure you’re re-upping all of your public or professional social media accounts with new posts or new links. If it’s obvious that you’re not engaging via your social media profiles, that dings your personal brand health. You don’t have to be on top of every bit of social media every second, but making sure you’re checking in and sending out content to your followers a few times a week can help maintain your connections and show that you’re on top of all the relevant stuff going on in your field.
It’s also good policy to review your followers pretty frequently. Do you have a core group of followers with whom you interact by retweeting, commenting, etc.? Or do you have mostly a group of absentee, bot-esque followers who don’t engage with your content? The best thing for your brand is having people whom you can depend on to respond to you, and vice versa. Every month, take a few minutes to see if there are any other new accounts you should follow yourself, and make sure you’re keeping an eye on the people and sites that provide the most up-to-date info in your field.
You don’t have to overhaul your brand all the time, but taking time throughout your week and your month to do a quick review of what’s out there (especially with your name on it) and what you’re doing to interact with your world is going to help you keep your public image healthy.
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