It’s no secret that employers search Google before interviewing candidates or offering someone a job. There’s a great deal you can find out about a person by simply googling his or her name: pictures, profiles, videos, blog entries, comments written by and about the person, tweets. Taken together, this collection of information gives a prospective employer an idea of who it is they’re about to hire.
So think about this: If employers can do it, so can your prospective clients. If a would-be client looked up your name on the Internet, what would they find? Hopefully there are no photos of drunken revelries from your college days or incendiary comments from your ex. But it could happen.
The fact is, everything you’ve ever created or shared on the Internet is out there available for someone to find. Search engines can even turn up information from sites that no longer exist. The information could have been created by you—like your old MySpace page—or by someone else. It could be true or it could be very incorrect. It could even be a case of mistaken identity—a murder suspect in another state with the same name as you. Nonetheless, this is what prospective clients will see if they try to find out more about you.
When is the last time you googled your own name? Try it now and see what you get. Also try one of these search tools that pulls information from a variety of sources:
ZabaSearch taps public records and databases
Yasni pulls data from social networking sites and creates a complete “profile” of you
pipl quickly and efficiently identifies photos and websites that include your name and likeness
If your search turns up a lot of information, hopefully it speaks well of you. If you’re finding very little, it’s time to get busy.
Either way, your work is cut out for you. Starting today, your job is to thoughtfully add information to the Internet that builds your credibility and enhances your reputation. In future posts, we’ll discuss the many ways to do that. We’ll also discuss what to do if your Internet search turns up negative information or if some person with the same name as you grabs the top search positions, making it hard for prospects to find you.
Don’t Overlook the Personal Touch
The best defense is always a good offense, and in this case personal contact can be an excellent offensive strategy. If your prospecting includes phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and other personal interactions, people will feel they know you. And people who know are less likely to feel the need to look you up on the Internet to see if you’re any good. Alternatively, you can build a strong referral business, so that prospects come to you because someone they trust has recommended you. That too will keep prospects from feeling the need to research you before giving you a call.
Because the Internet can be your enemy as well as your friend, it’s important to take control and be proactive about your online image.