This is for those of you that are struggling to find your way. Maybe you are stagnant in your job and looking for a new one. Maybe you have branched out on your own and are trying to get established. Maybe you started a company and are waiting for your customers to find you. Maybe you are totally clueless about what to do next. How do you show up and get on the radar?
I know of a woman in her late forties who has worked as a professional in the same firm for twenty years and watched her field dry up in the recession. Many of her co-workers lost their jobs but she hung on to hers despite her salary being cut several times. As the work and the office environment changed she became bored and unhappy. Recently, she decided that safety and loyalty was not all it was cracked up to be and she put some feelers out and sent out her resume.
She was excited to get a call to come in for an interview from one of the best firms in her industry. It went really well and she knew she was perfect for the job since this firm needed someone with her specific skills and level of experience. The company called her in for two more interviews over the next week, but then she was told that she did not get the job.
Now, I don’t know all of the details. There could have been someone who was a better fit or she could have shot herself in the foot in some way or another, but what I do know is that she was not prepared to interview for this job.
How do I know this? I Googled her and despite her years of experience and the great work she has done there was not one thing about her showing up in a search of her name. What did come up for her name?
So and so was charged and found guilty of murdering and dismembering two former boyfriends before dumping their remains in canals in Rotterdam and London.
Thankfully, this is not this woman. But this goes to show she has some work to do to get her own self to show up in a search of her name.
Nowadays, you will get Googled by a prospective employer or a prospective client and you want to show up with a carefully crafted message across several channels about who you are and what you have done. How you appear to the public is referred to as your personal brand. People are getting hip to the fact that who we are and how we are perceived is not just about how we dress or what we drive. Our digital persona will also be under consideration and our online look and feel has to portray how we want to be perceived which means we have to take some care in crafting it. For example, what is the story that your LinkedIn profile tells of your career? Do you even have a LinkedIn profile?
People will look you up online because they want to know more about you. Yes of course you can tell people about yourself but it can seem like bragging especially if you are pretty exceptional. When someone discovers things you have done and what you think online they will trust it and trust you more.
The thing is, most likely you are the author of most of the information out there, at least in the beginning of establishing yourself online. If you were a spoke at an event, you provided your biography. You wrote the content of your About page for your website. You picked the projects for your portfolio and chose what to write about. But that is beside the point since it does not matter. When people read it online it is simply more real and it also demonstrates that you are savvy and up to speed. It makes it easier to get the sale, the job or the date.
Trust me. You have to show up. And, if you want to be a contender you want to own the Google page for your name. I hate to say it is true, but no amount of amazing work counts if you have not documented it. Have you written a book, have people written about you? Have you been interviewed, done keynote speeches or spoken on your area of expertise at the local Chamber of Commerce, done PowerPoint presentations, created art, started businesses, done volunteer work, worked on projects that you are proud of. None of that counts and most of the cool things you have done will have been long forgotten, even by you if you do not write them down.
And for those of you who are saying to yourself, “ I have a job so this doesn’t apply to me, or “I am a stay at home Mom so it doesn’t matter”. Well actually, it does. You really don’t know how or when your circumstances might change and in the blink of a disaster you could find yourself having to support yourself. If you stay in the loop you will be ready.
So don’t be so quick to say, “No not me”. Instead I hope you are wondering, “How do I get started”?
I have written before about how to rebuild your brand after getting negative press, but now I am going to give you 10 baby steps to developing your online presence from the get go.
It will be great for people who are starting from square one and it should also have a few tips for those of you who want to spruce up your personal brand.
Tip of the Week
1. Search Yourself
First off, you will want to gather some baseline data. Search your name and take note whether it comes up in the search, where it comes up and whether what comes up is positive, negative or irrelevant. Take notes or do a screen shot so that you can track your progress. Your goal is to have positive results showing on page one.
2. Secure Your Domain Name
You need to get the domain for your name before someone else does. This is important because you can put up a site online with your name and it will start to come up well in searches of your name. Even if you are not going to take this any further, it will stop others from purchasing them and putting up information about you or themselves. Go to any domain registrar, such as Network Solutions and buy yourname.com along with the other domain extensions.
3. Create a Short Bio
Tell your story. Write your elevator speech. Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? People love a story. You will use this in various iterations and lengths on your website, brand page, and for your bio on social media profiles .
4. Start a Personal Website
There are many ways to get a personal site. You can get a WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Tumbler, or a start a one page personal site on About.me. If you are a professional, you should have someone set up a WordPress site for you on your own hosting account and start to blog about what you do, or add your portfolio photos or artwork. This will help you come up in searches and brand yourself in your field as a “go to” person. If you are not going to follow through with that level of commitment, then the minimum step would be to sign up and create an About.me page. I would suggest that even if you have a WordPress site for yourself or your business you set up an About.me page as a personal home page with your bio and the various ways people can follow or connect to you online.
5. Get a Professional Headshot
Good photographs make a big difference. Don’t cut your head out of one of your good photos. And, I am also not talking about going to the passport kiosk at the post office in a suit. Go ahead and get someone to take some photos of you that help to support the story you will be telling online.
6. Create a look
Just like how your choice of clothing helps to create a certain impression, so does your design. Even if you are not creative make it work for you so that you stand out from the crowd. Use nice graphics and images that go along with telling your story or demonstrating your interests.
7. Sign-up for a Gravatar
Gravatar is a free service of Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com. It allows you to upload your headshot and associate it with your email address. When you are most anywhere on-line and leave a comment on your blog or someone else’s or sign up for certain events, your Gravatar image and bio will be associated with your email address.
8. Set up Social Media Accounts
Half of the listings on a search of my name are results from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. And it is especially important to get an account and your profile set up on G+. See the screenshot below that shows the prominence on the right side of the results coming from my Google + account. You do not need to be on these Social Media sites a lot or even very often. You do need to fill out the profiles completely with a photo. It is a good idea to use the same photo on all of the sites.
9. Link your sites from one to another
It will help your listings to show up better when you have links on your blog or About.me to the various sites. And be sure to fill out the Social Media profiles putting links to your website or About.me url. The interlinking shows Google that you are the same person which helps to give you more ranking in a search.
10. Keep Track of your Progress
There are several ways to keep track of how you are doing. Of course you can and should keep checking the results of a search of your name. You can set up Google Alerts so when your name appears anywhere online, you will get an e-mail telling you about it. You can also sign up for a BrandYourself.com account which helps you to get your different social media and websites to come up in searches. There is a free and premium version so try the free first and you may want to move up to the low-cost premium if you think it is going to give you some extra”Boost”.
This is a screenshot of my Google search. Check out my About.me page.