Personal branding is a hot topic, but may not be one that is fully understood by all.
Simply put, everything you do online is basically a permanent record. The easy-to-find info is what you contribute in your own name or email address. Don't be fooled. The tools to find you are getting more comprehensive.
The old rule of thumb when reviewing a job applicant was to search their name on the search engines and see what you find. A few drunken nights in college may not be he end of your consideration, but over-the-rants about controversial topics or personal attacks may raise some doubts. Check out the search on my name. I own 9 out 10 of the results on this page. The one exception is a Facebook account that is in my name, but by another Scott Moroney. I will concede this one since it will provide very little in terms of value to an outside searcher.
The same goal exist now, to establish a character profile of a person. This is a powerful tool in the hands of human resource teams, but an even more powerful tool in the hands of the average person with legitimate or illegitimate motives.
So what is your personal brand right now online? Google, Yahoo and MSN are good places to start, but the network of information sources and aggregators is proliferating. Twitter is searchable. My Space and Facebook have limited exposure, but have the potential to allow access under some conditions (i.e., accepting a friend request that found some info about you on Google and convinced you of a past relationship).
Seth Godin talks about this general topic today. He demonstrates how people are either not aware of how pervasive the reach of the web has become or just don't care. Check it out.
Dan Schawbel has a great blog, podcast and newsletter on this topic. He posts almost daily and provides some great perspective that will help you develop your personal brand and differentiate yourself among the masses. Well worth a few minutes everyday to read.
Both Seth and Dan share that you can create your own search results with some time and effort. How?
- Create a blog in your name - and post to it regularly on a topic you are an expert or passionate about
- Open a Twitter account - and use it to feed your blog and build a network
- Post on blogs you enjoy - making sure you add some value to the conversation
- Create a Squidoo page - to help a charity you support
The key is to be congruent (thanks @CoachDeb on Twitter). Each of these efforts should be coordinated. This will skyrocket your search results. Search engines love bloggers, love multiple points leading the same name and they love frequency in activity.
So get out there and search on your name across as many points as possible. Then it is time to take some action. Good luck.