“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” This saying is still true… and more and more, that first impression is occurring online. What people judge you on is not your looks, your clothes, your body language or other things that may or may not be fair… In fact, they judge you before they even meet you based on your presence online.
Career and Business: 70% of companies have rejected candidates based on their online reputation, yet only 7% of Americans believe that it affects their job search according to a 2010 study by Microsoft and Cross-Tab Market Research. Many freelancers and entrepreneurs are also beginning their ventures through personal brands.
Relationships: According to a 2013 Harris Poll published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences one in three American couples that got married between 2005 and 2012 met online. Don’t you think that most women Googled their future grooms before meeting him? Of course they did!
While the idea of this can create a sense of horror in some, your online reputation is manageable. And actually, one of the risks of personal branding is that maybe you are not appearing enough! So, there is a simple strategy that you can do to get started. All you have to do is Google yourself! Yes, Google results do differ by region and your profile based on previous searches, but this be a first indicator of what people are seeing. According to studies, most people when they search only click on the first 5 results, and the vast majority of people do not go to the second page. Here is the breakdown according to Search Engine Watch:
So – the first thing to do is to Google yourself, and analyze your first 5 results and score them all out of 5. What do you want your results to be?
Authentic: Steve Jobs said “Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life” which is true. You want your online profile to be a real representation of who you are. But just as you would put your best foot forward on a job interview, a pitch or a first date, you want to put your best foot forward online.
Well-Rounded: It is important to be authentic. You want to be a three dimensional person online, rather than just focusing on one side of who you are.
Unique: Just like corporate brands, you want your personal brand to stand out from the crowd.
Appropriate: Of course, you want the content to be an acceptable first impression, and not content that is embarrassing or off-putting. Though, everyone has a different audience, so make sure that your content will suit the taste of the people reading your stuff.
Note: if you have a common name, you may need to enter in your city, or other identifiers as well. You can then roll up your score into a percentage – for example, a 15/20 would be 75%.
- 0-50%: The top reason why your score would be so low is that you are not appearing enough. Is there something you can do to increase your online profile? Is there a risk for you?
- 51%-79%: Your online profile is going okay for you, but you may want to make some changes.
- 80%-100%: Your online brand is strong – keep it up!
As a test, maybe choose a celebrity or a high profile person in your community. For my example, I am choosing Angelina Jolie:
Her first 5 search results would yield a score of 13/15 or 87%. Note: I took out “authentic” since I cannot ask her if this result really reflects who she is.
Well Rounded: 5: The profile shows a lot of different parts of her life, including her acting career (IMDB), humanitarian efforts (News), and personal life (People).
Unique: 5: With her incredible beauty, the variety of what she does and her unusual family life, love her or hate her, she is definitely unique!
Appropriate: 3: The first result, which is by far the most important, showed a quite scathing analysis of her humanitarian work. But the rest shows her career, and a sweet article about her daughter joining her on screen.
Of course a celebrity is a special case, and regular people will not have the same amount of content, but you can begin to get the idea.
In future articles, we will be featuring some personal branding stories, looking at the myth of anonymity and learning what you can do to turn your personal brand around if needed.