Everyone owning his or her own business should be aware of this: by working and communicating online we are growing our digital footprint. Combine this with a search-happy business world and you will realize your online footprint can in fact make or break your next business goals.
Before we buy a product or hire a service, we google and search for clues on reputations. The same happens with you as entrepreneur. Who are you and what is your online reputation? Make no mistake, before you can even speak up and have a meeting, Google has already presented your personal profile. And within seconds your new job, the much needed investment or the potential customer is gone.
Have you Googled yourself yet? Do it now. I’ll wait.
So, what does page 1 of Google search tell about you? Is your online reputation in line with who you really are? Or is it a blurred image, due to weird pictures, lousy comments made once or just a mixed bag. We are convinced that a strong online reputation will generate more business opportunities. Because you made sure it’s you who’s drawing the picture and not Google.
How we do that? Check me out … on Google. Then give me a call or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s slowly dawning on business people – when everyone is checking out everything online, the same surely will happen to me as a person. But why are they not bothered about it yet? As always, business people will consider ‘will I lose any business from it?’ I’m sure you will, but let’s stay positive: how about gaining new business?
Let’s face it: we have all become part of a reputation economy and Google is the new background check. Even for you as a person. So when your online presence is not in sync with your off-line-me or simply not appealing enough, sorry, no investment or alas, no job offer. VC’s and Hiring Managers move on to a better candidate.
We increasingly are invited to speak about this new phenomena and how to harness yourselve against it. We usually start by telling attendees to google their own name first. And then imagine yourself before an important meeting, say as a hiring manager, or a start-up investor – would you do business with ‘you’? Because who is this person applying for the job in real life? What is happening outside his or her polished LinkedIn profile? Does he have any hobbies or other personal interest? Who in fact are we dealing with? No answers, or at best, a blurred image can mean no next step.
Checking a name on LinkedIn can be too direct and obvious, so Google as most popular search option is used without you even being aware. Google page 1 with the 10 hits are offering a quick snap shot of what a person stands for. It can generally produce three options: 1.You are not present at all – do you really exist? 2.You have a pretty blurred image – no, totally not you. 3.You are in sync with your other profiles. When a choice can be made between candidates, who would you prefer?
People like to do business with people. Not just with good looking profiles or shining images. Make sure you are represented well online. If you don’t do it, social media and Google as search indexer will do it for you. Better get ahead.
If you didn’t know already – we are living in a reputation economy. And Google has become the new background check. Everyone is googling, all the time – to find information, opinions, background info, but also checking out people. Did you know that 80% of people will google you before they decide to meet you? Asking themselves: Who is the person I’m meeting? What makes him or her tick? What does he or she do outside their job? Where are they heading for in life?
Questions that Google can easily answer by showing what’s being posted online. On all social media channels, just recently or maybe some time back. If nothing fresh is being posted, this keeps popping up and you might not like it. Basically, you are who Google says you are. My question to you: is your online reputation in line with you are?
The index (10 hits each page) is based on available online content and is taken from websites and blogs, but also articles, news and social media posts. And this picture drawn on Google page 1 will determine whether people choose to do business with you, or go elsewhere. You might never know why you missed the much needed investment, got skipped for the new job or that board position you pitched for. It’s just inevitable: Google has become the first stage of the background check and the first elimination point.
My advice would be to start producing new, or re-purposing older, content. This will help to get your ‘online-me’ in sync with your ‘offline-me’. Uploading good content (including photos and videos) improves your chances of being found online. And remember that in order to rank on search engines, you need to have fresh content that is relevant to your audience. Google not only indexes your page based on keywords, but also the relevancy of a page’s semantic relevance and back links to credible websites.
Key to all this: a strong online reputation will help generate more business opportunities. And who doesn’t want that?
What if customers, before they decide meeting you, first check you out on Google and LinkedIn. What will they find? Just a brief summary of who you are, because ‘the rest will be added in a personal meeting’? What if potential clients decide it’s too vague and pick your competitor in stead? You will never know.
In order to become more visible and authentic, consider two important issues. First, all online content, from web and ad copy to social media and print materials, everything that’s published about you and your brand will become your brand. You are your own Personal Brand. Just because your company isn’t a media publication doesn’t mean people can’t go there for advice and insight. They will. All the time.
Secondly, in order to create a better and strong online reputation, you should start producing bits of content. Present all aspects about your personality, or have someone interview you. Talk about where you came from, what you do right now and how you envision the future. Cover all dimensions of your life, not just your business. You are more than just your job!
Produce this content (text and preferably also video) on WordPress and distribute it through social media. People will pick it up, read it and by doing so link back to you. This will help you perform well in search and Google will eventually present your ‘online-you’ more in sync with your ‘offline-you’.
And remember: ‘no news’ in search does not mean ‘good news’ on Google page 1. Start the digital clean-up today and build yourself a strong online reputation. It will ultimately generate more business opportunities.