This is the ninth of ten posts where we follow Marcos Salazar’s personal branding journey, as he uses the concepts and four-step process outlined in Me 2.0 for his own career.
About a year ago, I received an email from someone who had commented on a post of mine on a series about postcollege depression. On the blog post he had written a long, personal comment explaining how he had suffered from postcollege depression after graduation and discussed the process he went through to get out of it. It was a heartfelt comment that touched many of my readers. The only problem: he used his real name when he posted the comment.
The reason he was writing me was that when you Googled his name, my website linking to his comment was the first search result to come up! He was in the process of applying to law school so he was scared that if (most likely when) the admissions committed looked him up, the first thing they would see was this highly personal confession of his. I quickly deleted the comment at his request.
In thinking about situations like these, it reiterated to me that anything we put online can come back and impact our personal brand – even it its something from many years ago. This is why the last step outlined in Me 2.0 – Maintain Your Brand – is such an important element in developing a strong personal brand.
Let’s do some spring cleaning
On this last phase of my personal branding journey, I wanted to make sure that everything about me online matched up with the personal brand I was creating. So I Googled my name (as well as Binged it) and found that there were a number of tech forums I had posted to many years ago that showed up. And more recently, I had a number of comments showing up from the Get Satisfaction! site many companies now use for their customer service report. On these I had mistakenly used my full name and because they were large sites with lots of traffic, they were showing up fairly high on search results.
So what I did (and I suggest you do as well) is contacted all of these sites and asked them to remove my name and account information. While nothing I had posted was controversial or would have damaged my personal brand, these sites were blocking other things I wanted higher on search results such as being featured in the New York Times or on Forbes.
I also highly suggest not using your real name on these sites. Get Satisfaction has a large userbase so it was showing up in the top 10 in terms of Google search results. It also took them weeks to figure out how to remove my username from the URL of my profile (it was finally fixed). In addition, it is a good idea to set up Google Alerts with your name so you can monitor anything you have missed (in addition to monitoring what others say about you).
Updating and maintaining your personal brand is much different than updating your resume because with your resume you only really have to do it when you are applying for a new job. Too many times we put information on websites or social networks and don’t think to update this information whenever we gain new skills or work experiences. You certainly don’t want to lose out on potential opportunities because your personal brand information is not up-to-date therefore, it is important you look over and update these sites regularly.
There are many sites out there you can do this with besides your personal website, so I suggest only focusing on the major ones to save yourself time. Therefore at a minimum make sure your personal website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are up-to-date. Then when doing a search for you name and you realize you have a profile on many other social networks, you can decide if you want to keep them or need to delete them.
Static vs. dynamic brand
In today’s hypercompetitive economy you need to be constantly learning new knowledge and skills to survive and maintain a competitive advantage. Therefore, it is important to get into the mindset that our personal branding is not something that is static but in fact, very dynamic and will evolve over time based on new passions, discoveries, and experiences. This doesn’t mean that you constantly change your brand at the whim of new things you are interested in but rather, that you are willing to be open and aware of new things that interest you and are willing to integrate them into them into your brand if you decide to pursue them.
For me personally, as an extension of my work on leadership development at the Girl Scouts, I have become much more interested in girl and women’s rights and am looking into writing more about these issues. In addition, I have also become much more interested in politics and am exploring the possibility of writing about how politics is impacting Gen Y and Millennials, and even thinking about the possibility of running for political office one day. All these, if I decide to pursue them, will require a tweaking of my brand in order to fit them in, and this is okay. We are all most likely going to be changing jobs and passions throughout our lifetime so it is important to be flexible enough with your brand that you will allow yourself to go after something that may not be related to your current brand. And when you do this, you will have learned the value of what it is like to be Renaissance Worker.
Marcos Salazar is the author of The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide, which focuses on the psychology of life after college and what graduates go through as the make the transition from school to the working world. He writes a career adventurism and psychological development blog for young professionals at www.marcossalazar.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @marcossalazar.