Have you done a search of your name on a search engine lately? If you haven’t, let’s try a fun exercise by opening another browser tab and go to Google’s search page and type in your full name. Let’s check out your online personal branding. Just make sure that you are not logged in to your Google account before you do the search. If you don’t have a personal website in your name or you’re not very active online, chances are, you may not like the top results of your name search. Your online personal branding may be branded and dictated by another person with a similar name as you. So for this post, I will be discussing the importance of building and maintaining your online personal branding.
I Had No Online Presence Before
A few years ago, I was conducting this same search with my own name just out of curiosity. To my surprise, the search result returned quite a few individuals that have the same name as me, but none of the results included me. However, most of the profiles and postings returned from the search engine were less than stellar and some people even had really disturbing information posted. After conducting the search, I became aware that my online personal branding was being dictated by someone else and I had absolutely no control over it. In another words, my online identity was at the mercy of those people with the same name as me and I was not representing myself. This really bothered me as my personal image/reputation can be negatively affected by other people’s actions online.
The Digital Age
At the time of my name search, I didn’t have any presence online at all. The only thing I had was a Facebook account and I hardly posted anything. I was not very social with my social media profile at all and I did not want to share anything personal online back then. In addition, I was not a very big fan of self-promotion and blowing my own horns. So what had changed my mind? Blogging and the realization that the world is making the transition to the digital age.
Online Presence Equals Opportunities
Like it or not, the world that we live in today had been transformed and it will continue to evolve in the future. More and more processes are being digitized. People, businesses, and governments are making more interactions online and searching for personal information digitally. If you don’t have an online presence, then you are missing out on the available opportunities. Even worst, if your online personal branding is being misrepresented by someone else, it can be detrimental to you and your personal finance.
Not Being Found Equals Loss Opportunities
Let’s say that there is a dream job that you just saw posted on a company’s website that you wanted to work for. You have most of the qualifications and you think that you will be able to provide a great deal of value in that position and you applied for that job. Guess what? The first thing that the recruiting department will be doing is to search for your name on a search engine. If the search engine returns bad profiles of other people with your name, there go your chances of getting an interview. What can you do to prevent this from happening?
Quick Fix Or Long-Term Solution?
Depending on what your goal is, you can either clean up your profile by taking one of two routes. You can ensure that you are found and correctly represented when people search for your name. Or, you can build and maintain your online personal branding by being an influencer or authoritative figure in a field of your choice. The first route is quite straightforward and you can follow Ryan Erskine’s tips over at www.entrepreneur.com to protect your online reputation. The second route takes more time and effort, but it also comes with long-term potentials and benefits.
How I Improved My Online Personal Branding
Since you are reading this post, you can pretty much guess that I took the second route. I have great aspirations to be an influencer in the Canadian personal finance blogging space. To build and maintain my online personal branding, I have been working very hard during the last year to build my online presence. As of this post, I am happy to shamelessly blow my own horn, that I have 7 out of the top 10 “Leo T. Ly” search results on Google. Here are the steps that I took to reach the top of the Google search results:
- Create my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus) and regularly post on those platforms. I still need to add a couple more social profiles like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram
- Create an “about us” page on my website
- Write a blog post about yours truly, Leo T. Ly. This one was a bit difficult and I really need to thank Erik from The Master Mind Within for the idea. Did you see how I seamlessly incorporated “Leo T. Ly” in this post a few of times? This will definitely help me rank better on the search engine in a few weeks for my own name.
- Comment on other personal finance blogs using Leo T. Ly rather than an alias. I am building my presence and my brand at the same time.
- Create a Gravatar (Global Resource Avatar) profile with my picture so that it follows me everywhere on the web when I leave a comment on other blogs
- Create regular personal finance contents on my blog, which keeps my name active and relevant
- Optimize each of my post to improve the post’s search result ranking, which in turn improves the ranking of my name
- Network with other bloggers to get mentioned in their blogs like Mustard Seed Money, Passive Canadian Income, Frugal Asian Finance, and The Master Mind Within, just to name a few.
The Potential and Opportunities
Though I can’t quantify exactly the actual financial benefits that come with my online personal branding, I can visualize the future potential and the opportunities that opened up for me. Having this online presence provided me with the opportunity to add another source of income. If I really need to earn extra cash during my early retirement, I will have a great foundation to build on. At the same time, my real estate business is also getting more exposure due to my blog. If I ever want to start an online consulting business, I can also use my online personal branding as a portfolio for my work. The opportunities are endless.
My Two Cents
Many people think that if they act lawfully and keep a clean criminal record will be sufficient to keep their reputation clean and pristine. However, in today’s digital age where the world is so interconnected and abiding by the law may not be enough. People need to differentiate themselves from others of the same name. They need to represent themselves in the digital world by building and maintaining their online personal branding. They may not need the extra opportunities, but they don’t want the negative image of others to represent them in any way. Hence, own and protect your online image.
So, do you have an online personal branding? How important is it for you to represent yourself in the digital world? Do you think that your personal finance will be affected by negative image of another person with the same name?