To know oneself, one should assert oneself.
– Albert Camus
In today’s world, self-promotion is the norm; controlled and focused self-promotion is, however, a different matter altogether. Let’s be clear about this: self-promotion doesn’t just include taking endless rounds of selfies or speaking out on Facebook on the vital need for more cats and less fleas. Effective self-promotion involves a comprehensive strategy of focus: Why bother? Simple: because it matters. (And this is simply not limited to an individual; the same rules apply to entities as well).
The irony of today’s connected world is that while people communicate and share through the plethora of social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, about.me, etc.) we really don’t ‘talk’ to each other (much less listen to one another) – in an effective means. A good analogy is imagining yourself walking into a giant warehouse with many people, and overhearing an endless stream of conversations, shouting, arguments, whispers, discussions – with nobody outside of their immediate range paying attention. And why bother? Frankly, few really want to be buried alive under an endless stream of noise, but yet this is medium by which we are obligated to ‘advertise’ ourselves – for our businesses, our careers, our interests – who we are: a cacophony of noise within a crowded warehouse.
In years past when communication was primarily between those who were more physically immediate to us, contact was more personal and knowledge shared at a more intimate level. Nowadays, within the context of a global structure, people cannot readily know each other at a more intimate level but rather rely upon computer searches and remote informational sources. It’s no big thing nowadays to simply type in somebody’s name on a search engine and read the results, so much so that what was once the purview of private detectives is now in the hands of anybody with computer access.
And that’s the problem: the computer is often wrong. What you see on Google is often not accurately descriptive of who you are – assuming that it even knows you.
In this day and age, you have a multitude of identities: your credit history, your voting history, your criminal history (if any), your driving record. Taken together, these information sources draw a ‘picture’ of who you are. Increasingly as public access is being granted to informational sources which were once considered private, personal information is appearing on search engines. This is an inevitable social evolution and like it or not, little can stop it. The result: how you appear on Google (or other search engines) defines who you are.
You are a separate person on search engines; and sometimes, it can be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
With search engines, ‘reverb’ can take place where old news keeps on appearing over and over. And more disturbingly, inaccurate information can also appear, confusing you with somebody else (imagine the perils of having a name like ‘Joe Smith’, as but one example!).
But you can control this process and ensure that who you are on the Internet / search engines is accurate and more representative of who you are. And if you haven’t already considered so, now would be a good time.
There are several key steps and methodologies – and rather simple ones – when undertaken and practiced regularly will help you regain control of your identity, while insuring a far more accurate portrait of you:
Having a consistent bio of yourself on your various social media sites is important: what you say on Facebook should be rather close to the description you have on your LinkedIn page. Remember the analogy of the warehouse? One aspect of consistency is your ‘message’ will be better ‘heard’ if it’s consistent and repetitive. Saying the same thing across several platforms achieves this. Search engines rely on key word searches. Using multiple media platforms is great, but useless when your message is garbled and the keywords vary from site to site. Having consistent key words is vital.
Your bio / mission statement should include your name (or the name of your entity) within the bio, with your bio / mission statement clearly written. Avoid the helping verbs, the long, strung out sentences. Sometimes, writing in the third person is also good as this helps search engines in picking up your bio / mission statements.
Keep it positive. Sounds silly, but sometimes folks write about themselves in a negative or self-disparaging voice. If you’re going to say something, make it intriguing, interesting and compelling (if possible). Humor is also very helpful: reading something people enjoy is an excellent means to develop a bigger audience.
These are but some aspects of controlling your internet presence; there is much more to learn. Want to learn more? Feel free to drop a line if you’re so inclined.
It’s a big world out there: who better to tell your story then yourself?