What does the "virtual" you communicate to the world about who you are?
If someone were to look at your online presence today, what would they find and what would they think of you as a result?
Potential employers, a prospective love interest, co-workers, neighbors, old friends, and people you’ve never met are looking you up and forming impressions about you based on what they see.
Looking yourself up online isn’t vain, it’s smart.
Read on for simple strategies you can use to look up and track the "virtual" you.
Start By Googling Yourself
Prepare to search:
If you have a Google account, log out of it before you start a search.
Use an Incognito window (or tab on mobile) to search so the results aren’t influenced by your location or search habits.
Conduct the search:
Search your first and last name with and without it wrapped in quotes - e.g., Alex Forrest and "Alex Forrest".
Try variations of your name, especially if you have a fairly common name with various spellings - e.g., "Alex Forrest" with 2 "r"s and "Alex Forest" with one "r" or "Alex C Forrest".
Use the word “and” to combine keywords and focus your search more specifically, especially if you have a common name - e.g., search your name with keywords like your city, company, profession, and any organizations you’re associated with - e.g., "Alex Forrest" and "Toronto".
Assess The Search Results
Review up to the first five pages of results:
How much information shows up - lots or not much?
What’s the first impression someone might get about you from the results?
What people/organizations are you associated with?
What articles are you quoted in?
What comments show up?
What does it all say about who you are - your character, personality, professionalism?
Click the “Images” tab and look through those.
What do the images say about who you are?
Do they paint an accurate picture of how you want to present yourself to the world?
Are there any surprises that don’t align with how you want to be seen?
Note things you want to change
What do you want to modify or remove?
What can you change yourself?
Who might you need to contact to have something removed or changed?
Alex is reviewing her image search results and a number of photos she's been tagged in from her school years show up. Which photo should she modify or remove to present a more professional image of herself?
Expand Your Search
Use the same search criteria you used on Google on other major search engines such as: Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Ask, Bing, Youtube
Scan Your Social Media
Check out how you show up on your social media accounts that are public.
What impression do they make about you?
Is your profile picture professional? Flattering? Current?
What does your bio or profile description say about you?
What comments or endorsements have others made about you?
What images or videos show up?
Who are you connected with?
What have you retweeted?
Set Up Ongoing Tracking
Automate with Google Alerts
If you have a Google account you can set up Google Alerts. They’re a super easy way to automate tracking for your name.
You set up an alert for your name once, and it notifies you via email anytime it shows up on the web.
Schedule Monthly Reviews
If you don’t have a Google Account, or if you want to make tracking a monthly practice, use your online calendar to create a recurring event to remind you to check out your online presence on the same day/time every month.
In a Google Alert notification, Alex noticed that a comment she made on a LinkedIn group post was taken by a third party company and used verbatim with her name and a link to her website in an article they published. What should Alex's next step be?
Don't leave your online reputation to chance.
Proactively managing and tracking your online presence is quick and easy, and the best way to ensure the "virtual" you the world sees accurately represents the "real" you they've yet to meet!
Do a Google Search for your name right now.
Set up tracking using Google Alerts or a recurring calendar event to make it a regular habit.