Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised by what you find? I have a relatively common name, so I always find out things about the famous Tim Collins’s of the world….a Major League Baseball player, a British general, and more. But one time, I came across something that I clearly did not want associated with my name. I shared a name with a serviceman who involved in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The story and its search results have long since faded into the background, but it taught me a lesson about monitoring and managing my online reputation.
The majority of business interactions happen online, including interactions with Executives. Most people will Google you immediately after meeting you. This includes hiring managers and recruiters, employees and prospective employees, vendors, journalists, and of course, customers. First impressions matter, so make sure you give people the right impression. The first step is being aware of your online reputation.
Google just your name. If you have a relatively unique name, your results will be straightforward. But if you have a common name like me, you will see results from others who share your name. While it can be informative and amusing, it can also uncover negative news that could rub off on your reputation. Imagine sharing a name with Monica Lewinsky, as more than a dozen women on LinkedIn do.
Google your name + your current company. Double check that the results aren’t derogatory, particularly on the first couple of pages.
Google your name + your last company. Your results can get interesting if your former company has had a bumpy ride since you departed. For example, I left Wells Fargo just a few weeks before their account scandal broke. More recent negative company news can get mixed in with your historical accomplishments, particularly if there are others still at the company with similar names.
Focus your attention on results on the first pages. Over 90% of searchers never go past the first page of search results. If there is something derogatory on page one, action is required. But 99% never go past page three, so a negative result on page six won’t really matter.
What do you do if you’ve found something negative? For many, one relatively easy task is to create content that pushes the negative results down, ideally onto the next page. For some this could be as simple as participating in a popular podcast or YouTube video that features the key words that yielded the negative result. For example, I might create a contemporary video about “What Tim Collins learned at Wells Fargo?” with content that has nothing to do with their recent troubles. Depending on where the derogatory information came from, the video may have to be posted on a site with some level authority to displace it.
Since the search engines prioritize active personal social media presences, another solution is to create a robust social media presence that pushes down negative results Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab, has a robust presence on Twitter and LinkedIn, and these two accounts both pop up near the top of his search results, pushing other content down. Contrast that with Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman , who is not socially active.
Of course, building a robust social presence is something that I can help with. But with really challenging online reputation issues, with multiple derogatory results, a reputation management company is called for. One that I can recommend is Blue Ocean Technologies . There are numerous others.
But the first step is awareness. Google yourself, and hope that the results you see are positive. If not, take action. Remember, first impressions matter.