Let’s face it, there’s not much you can’t find on Google these days.
Things you say on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a whole stack of other stuff show up on Google searches. Whether they are your profiles or comments you’ve made…
Google has a nifty way of piecing together an online picture of you. Understanding what Google says about you is important. With the rapid growth of social media, it’s no longer just something for celebrities and senior executives to be concerned with.
It’s a conversation that regularly comes up with clients and colleagues. Funnily enough it’s come up as a topic in my Masters program as well.
I’ve been online for a long time and have a lot of content about me indexed on Google. That’s for a number of reasons: I have my own websites and optimise for my name, I use social media a lot, I also use a stack of online services that make me and my websites easier to find.
Then there’s the stuff I don’t actively do. For example, I’ve worked for a number of high profile companies and my name has been published online in association with things I’ve done with them.
I know when I’ve hired people or I am speaking with a prospective client or employer one of the first things I do is Google them and look on LinkedIn.
Having a say about what Google says about you
- Own your own name.
I firmly believe that everyone should own their name as a domain and have a basic information site. I own my name and a couple of variations of it that have basic information and blog (some of the blogs get more love from me than others but that’s another conversation).
The same applies with social media sites. Most of them will allow you to have a custom URL linking straight to your profile. Where possible, configure it so it contains your full name.
- Be aware of your social media activity.
Social media sites are regarded by Google as ‘high influence’ meaning they will more likely than not show up in search results before everything else. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something you need to be aware of. Depending on your social media security settings, social media activity can display your profile or it can show up comments you’ve made, pictures you’ve posted, posts etc.
- There’s work and there’s play.
Personally I try to keep the two separate. Although I have Facebook and actively use it, I keep it to my family and friends and don’t promote the link. It’s not because I have anything to hide, I just prefer to keep family photos and private details about my life and family, private. Occasionally I’ll post public posts on Facebook but for the most part it’s for me to stay in touch with my near and dear.
LinkedIn on the other hand I have as a completely public profile. Anyone can find me and get in touch. This is a personal choice. I have colleagues that use their Facebook profiles to connect with people professionally and swear by it.
LinkedIn often gets described as Facebook for professionals… yeah it is, kinda. What needs to be understood is the etiquette on LinkedIn is very different to Facebook and you should treat what you post and how you comment with the same restraint you would in the workplace.
- Google your name and see what come up
This isn’t an egotistical thing, it’s about being aware of your online brand. I did it while writing this post and a few accounts I don’t use anymore popped up which prompted me to close them. As well as some accounts that I needed to update because I don’t use them very often. It serves as a great memory jogger as well as being aware of what Google is saying about you.
- Be yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing that you have interests outside of work, it means you’re a real person. Even on my professional blogs I talk about my interests outside of work. I volunteer with a couple of charities and also do some pro bono work.
- Do a “Do I want a complete stranger knowing this check” before you hit publish.
Once it’s online, it’s online and there to stay.
Over the last decade Lesleigh Ross has been leading project and change teams in complex delivery environments and transformation projects across public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Leigh is highly skilled in industry best practice methodologies and frameworks which is demonstrated through her ability to deliver quality business outcomes across ‘green fields’ and recovery projects and programmes.
As a ‘digital native’ Leigh believes delivering innovation in business is only possible through collaborative project design where the business and technical teams work hand in hand. A geek in her own right Leigh is able to “degeek the geek” and facilitate effective engagement through all stages of project delivery.
Leigh is the current Queensland Lead for the Change Management Institute and a proud member of the Australian Institute of Project Management and the International Centre of Complex Project Management. She is active in her local chapters and national interest groups which are focused on improving the professionalism, diversity and inclusion within the project management community.