Google me by my former last name (Kim Willoughby) or search me on YouTube and a former Olympic volleyball player arrested for assault is a top search result. There's also an attorney who seems to have a great reputation in Denver, but let's be honest, you'll remember the Olympic Bully first.
When's the last time you searched for yourself online? What pictures can be found with your name associated? And not just the name you go by now, but all your names: past, present, or even future. You may be surprised at what you find when you do search. You might be shocked when you search images! Not all searches lead to negative results, but if yours is one that does, imagine what that can do to your prospecting efforts!
You can count on prospects doing their diligence before they meet with you, so prepare for full disclosure upfront and take the steps needed to make sure when your name is searched, you are the person they find. Consider these three ways to help clients and prospects find the real you online:
1. Social Media is Key
Managing your online reputation within social media is a great way to boost your reputation off-line. The more relevant conversations you participate in online, the more others will like and share your comments. To boost your online reputation, a great tactic is to write blog posts on topics that will ensure you are a thought leader. Take a minute and log onto Klout.com and you can see what your Klout score is, too! The closer your score is to 100, the more perceived clout you have online (at least, according to their website).
2. Consider a Personal Marketing Resume
This is not a resume you'd use to solicit a job; it's why others love to do business with you. If I asked some of your best customers or clients to describe you, using three action verbs, what would they say? These three words can inspire thoughts on your personal positioning statement, which in turn would be a part of your overall Personal Marketing Resume. You could even consider using the words that best describe you professionally as part of the summary in your LinkedIn profile.
3. Change Your Name
Sounds drastic, I know! But using your full name, or adding your middle initial to social media profiles may change how the search engines find you. Whatever name you choose to use for business should be the name you use everywhere (all social media profiles, your email signature, and business cards) you want to be found or could be found by prospects and clients.
How it Worked for Me
By changing my name, I am no longer found when you search "Kim Willoughby." I can still be found by using Kimberly Willoughby because once I realized what result Kim Willoughby lead to, I focused my online branding efforts on Kimberly Willoughby, then Kimberly Alexandre-Willoughby. Since then, when searched by the name I now use for all my business and networking efforts, I can't be mistaken for a lawyer or a criminal. The first person you find is the real me!