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I Love It When You Google Me Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Managing Your Own Reputation Online

That's a great new pair of Manolo Blahniks you're sporting. And your hair, it's so salon. May I ask how much you spent?

None of my business, I realize. But it does bring home an interesting point: every day, people devote time, and occasionally gobs of money, to making sure they manage their appearance. Our wardrobes and haircuts are just the tip of a not so hidden iceberg. They're part of an intricate image we attempt to convey of ourselves to others.

So you know what I find kind of strange? That in this age of competitive workplaces and Internet ubiquity, one of the last places people think of for enhancing their own image is on the Web itself. Which is bizarro because you read the Jupiter Media Metrix rankings to see where your clients' brands stand. How about your own brand as an employee or job seeker?

Case in point. Kimberley (a pseudonym) is a Junior Media Buyer at a mid-sized ad agency in Toronto. Her client, an upstart financial services firm that's primarily virtual, has an award-winning web presence. They're everywhere. Look them up on Technorati, Google, YouTube, Facebook, and you'll find a managed, strategically sound exposure campaign.

But when you type Kimberley's full name into Google, she herself is the invisible woman. All you get is a brief citation or two about her. One is a link to some rant she posted on blogspot.com like a thousand years ago. Another points to a photo of her after one too many shots of tequila. At a company party, no less (say, is that a client--or a loved one--embracing her so fondly?).

Here's where we can take a lesson from our clients' marketing wizards. Employees and job seekers, much like products and services, can benefit greatly from strategic exposure online. It can be a terrific way to boost your personal or professional credibility, thereby bolstering your career prospects.

This holds true whether you're seeking a raise, promotion, or new job. Your own online presence counts. A growing number of employers are taking the extra step of running names of staff members and job seekers through search engines like Google, Yahoo and AltaVista. ZoomInfo and ClickedIn are coming on strong.

Which is why it makes more sense now than ever to deliberately boost your online reputation. You can begin to do so in the following easy-to-manage ways:

Establishing Your Own Presence
  • Have your own simple website that features you as a professional who possesses expertise and insights in your particular field.
  • Write your own blog with a focus on providing useful comments and information, within your realm of expertise, to interested others.
  • Advance your website ranking in search engines by using carefully chosen meta-tag keywords and by having others link to you.
  • Get colleagues and others to endorse you with positive comments that you can display on your site.
Leveraging Existing Resources
  • Make comments to other blogs or discussion groups where you might like your name to be seen.
  • Write relevant articles for e-zines, e-newsletters etc. of other associations (and add them to your own site as well).
  • Endorse colleagues with comments in your name for use on their websites.
  • Establish your profile, and increase your contact network, on a 'business community' website such as LinkedIn.com.
  • Make certain you manage your profile on ZoomInfo.com, a site that quietly gathers information about you online and sells it to others.
Your overall objective is to complement your offline reputation with a virtual one that you control. Not that you can always eliminate every wrinkle. For instance, if you were to perform a search on my name in Google.com, I would consistently turn up in the top two citations on the page. Not at all shabby. It's citation number three, however, that has me grinding my teeth in the wee hours of night: a mug shot of a different Mark Swartz, this one the former senior executive for Tyco. He was a busy (and naughty) boy it seems, having absconded with something in the realm of $650 million in U.S. funds.

Fortunately my own accumulated exposure overwhelms that of my evil twin from Tyco. (He, on the other hand, appears to be having more success on the dating front, but I digress). The situation I've just described is precisely the rationale for developing your personal online presence strategically. By doing so, you raise your odds of being noticed first. And of being recognized for your considerable expertise. Thus you come out looking impressive individually. And your employer benefits as well--by way of association with your excellence. Good buzz created for all concerned.

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