Googled yourself lately?

You may laugh at that, but you know that as a business owner or key executive – it’s imperative to understand how you’re showing up to the world. Your virtual appearance is just as important as the impression you make when walking into the office or meeting with a client.

Whether you want to think of yourself as one or not, you are a brand. Your digital image is your personal brand. This is a composite of your basic public information, social media posts (including posts and images you’re tagged in by others), news media exposure, and associations you affiliate with.  Every bit of data about you throughout the internet creates your digital portrait. You don’t have to have your name on the company signage for your online persona to affect your professional image or that of your company. If you represent your company in any fashion, from sales to CEO, your online appearance matters.  In fact, 62% of buyers say they make a business decision based on online content alone.[i] Is your digital image a true reflection of the dedicated professional and industry expert that you are?  If a potential client searches for information about you, what will they find?

Your Reputation Matters

Recently, TopResume released their findings of a nationwide research project around personal branding. They found that nearly 80% of professionals are neglecting their online brand and, in effect sabotaging their business opportunities.[ii] Your virtual persona has the power to:

  1. Add to or diminish your creditability.
  2. Show bias, stereotype you, or your beliefs.
  3. Help clients decide if they trust you enough to hire you or your company.
  4. Determine if potential employees will decide if they want to work for you. Do your values align?

People buy brands and invest in people rather than purchase products. Consider that 82% of buyers are more willing to place trust in a company when the C-suite (highest-ranking company executives) are active on social media, according to Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing in “War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing.” Odden also says that if a CEO uses social media, a whopping 77% of buyers are more likely to make a purchase. A buyer considering purchasing a Tesla, for example, might solely buy it—or not—based on their impression of Elon Musk. That’s the power behind a personal brand. A well-executed image that fosters credibility can directly boost the believability of the entire company. Skeptics and investors invest in brands they trust.[iii]

Your Personal Brand Should be Working for You

The age we are living in is becoming increasingly digital. A solid online persona is no longer something nice to have but is a need to have. According to Personal Branding Expert Carlii Lyon, “We live in this dimension, but we also exist online. We need to do what we can to ensure our online self resonates and is working for us. Because when we sleep, he or she is working for us.”[iv]

If the thought of Googling yourself now is creating an increasing level of anxiety – take a deep breath and relax! However, I do hope that I have convinced you to take an in-depth look at what your online image says about you. To make managing your personal brand painless and straightforward, I have compiled a list of tips and resources to help you get started:

  1. Set up a Google Alert using your name and your business name. Each time it appears in an article, blog, or website, you will be emailed.
  2. Claim your name in all of the social media networks – even if you do not want or intend to have a public profile. You want to own the page before someone else claims your name. Search for it beyond Facebook and Twitter – Snapchat, TikTok, Caffeine. Even if your profile is private and you never post a single thing, this is a preemptive strike.
  3. Make sure your active profiles are complete; add interesting and noteworthy information such as volunteer activity, links to your work, and connect with individuals and organizations that represent you.
  4. Buy your domain and any variation of your name. I own (and similar variants). I do it and have the URL redirect to my company website. You can leave it as is or redirect it to a LinkedIn page – you get the idea.
  5. Publish content – blogs, articles, research papers – that represent you and the image you want to project. This can be published on your website, but also shared on partner websites or newsfeeds such as Medium.
  6. Through social media branding, you have the power to influence what comes to mind when a potential client thinks of you. Be engaging and conversational. Connect with your audience authentically. Try not to put a sales spin on all of your content.

Your online self should be an extension of who you truly are and what you represent. Even while you sleep, your online self is networking and connecting with others 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Your personal brand is something you will be building upon for the rest of your life. Be intentional about how you shape it.

[i] (Blue Corona, 2019)

[ii] (Augustine, n.d.)

[iii] (Chan, 2020)

[iv] (Armstrong, 2021)