When Was the Last Time You Googled Yourself? (And Why You Need To, Especially If You’re an Entrepreneur)
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOOGLED YOURSELF?
We use Google for many things. We use it for e-mail purposes (Gmail), to satisfy our video-watching habit (YouTube), and to find great deals on the things we are shopping for. Most often, however, we use it, for the purpose for which it was originally designed, which is as a search engine, to search for anything and everything we either need or would like to know, such as how to plant a garden, how to shingle our own roof, or how to start our own business. That said, there is one thing that most of us have never used it for, which is something we should all be using it for, starting right now, which is Googling ourselves.
Let me ask you this—and this is a very serious question: When was the last time you Googled yourself?
In other words, when was the last time you pulled up Google.com, typed your own name (as well as any variations of it, for good measure) into Google’s search bar, and clicked “Search” to see what, if anything, comes up?
If your answer is “I can’t remember” or “I’ve never done that”, then you, my friend, are potentially in for a world of hurt, both financially and reputationally, going forward—that is, unless your behavior changes immediately. And this is especially true if you’re an entrepreneur or someone whose business or income-earning ability depends heavily upon his/her reputation.
Because what comes up on you or about you when you Google yourself (or your business) is what others see as well when they Google you, and if what they see is negative information (such as negative reviews of your products/services or of you personally), personally identifiable information (such as your home address, home or personal cell phone number, etc.), or, worse (in some cases), nothing at all (which is especially problematic if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner), then you stand to suffer either financially or reputationally, or both, as a result.
For example, Google may reveal your personal Facebook page to an employer you’ve recently submitted a job application to, and if that personal Facebook page reveals posts by you or photos of you that expose you as someone who is rude, cannot be trusted, or has a penchant for engaging in socially unacceptable or even criminal behavior (such as underage drinking, using drugs, etc.), then don’t be surprised when that employer passes on hiring you and goes, instead, with a “more qualified candidate”.
Similarly, let’s say you are a plumber, a home-builder, or some other type of contractor, and let’s say that someone Google searches you or the name of your business to learn more about what you do, but because you’ve never created your own website or signed up for any social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to promote yourself, the only thing that comes up is an unrelated review you left for another local business a few years ago. In other words, nothing of any value to your potential customer comes up—no website, no social media, no Angie’s List profile, etc.—which means that, for all intents and purposes, and as far as most tech-savvy, Internet-enabled individuals would be concerned, neither you nor your business exists.
If you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner and can’t see why this would be a problem, then, no pun intended, you have no business being in business.
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BE FOUND OR BE FORGOTTEN
My brand-building and business-related philosophy, when it comes to the Internet, is simple: Be found or be forgotten. In other words, either be discoverable—meaning have a website, be active on social media, and have more “good” things than “bad” things come up about you when I Google you—or be discarded, which is a fancy way of me saying “either be someone I’d like to do business with or someone I either can’t do business with, because I don’t know you exist, or won’t do business with, because, based on what I’ve seen and read about you online, I don’t like you and would never do business with you.”
In a recent blog post of mine, entitled “The Greatest Lesson I Ever Learned From Grant Cardone (About Life, Business, and Everything in Between)”, I spoke extensively about this philosophy and the need to “take up space in the marketplace” or, in other words, to be where your customers are, or where they can find you, which, in this day and age, just so happens to be on the Internet. In it, I pointed out (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you’re trying to sell me something, you’re going to have a very hard time doing so if the only way I can get information on you is by picking up a phone and calling you or by hopping in my car and physically driving myself to your place of business.
Your goal, if you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner, or a personal brand (like Tai Lopez or Gary Vaynerchuk), should be, first and foremost, to make it as easy and painless as possible for people to find out who or what you are and what you’re about. Selling shit to people comes second, and it should always come second, because the bottom line is this, and Grant Cardone says it often: If someone can’t find you, then they can’t do business with you. End of story.
Beyond this, when people find you, what they should be find should be “good”, as in, favorable to you and your business, or at least neutral, as opposed to “bad”. In other words, when I Google you, I should, ideally, be finding things like positive reviews of your products/services, forum threads about all the “good” you’re doing in the world, and quality content, such as Facebook and blog posts that are either informative or highly entertaining (or both), tweets that add value to my life, and videos that support your brand/business and its mission (whatever that may be). What I should not be finding is the opposite: A ton of negative reviews, people hating on you left and right, in all corners of the Internet, and worthless content that does little or nothing for you (or for me, for that matter), in terms of convincing me that doing business with you or that giving you my hard-earned money is a “good” idea.
Oh…what’s that you say? You don’t know what people are saying about you online, of whether they’re saying anything at all? Well, my friend, you have a problem then, and a big one, and it needs to be fixed and fixed fast, assuming you have any desire to be successful in this life or the next. Fortunately for you, I have extensive experience in fixing Public Relations issues of my own, and I’m happy to help you there.
ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT 101
Before we go any further, if you haven’t already stopped reading this post to Google yourself, I want you to open a new browser window or tab and do that right now.
Go on, do it. I’ll wait.
Okay, are you done?
After going through, say, one to three pages of Google search results, tell me, what did you find?
If you did find something, what did you find? And how did it make you feel? Conversely, if you found nothing (or at least nothing worth telling anyone about), how did that make you feel?
Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur/business owner or just an Average Joe or Jill who cares what other people think about him or her (although obviously not enough to have Google searched yourself before today), I want you to ask yourself the following question:
“Do I like the things I find about myself, or the lack thereof, when I Google myself?”
Next, I want you to ask yourself, “Do I think other people would like what they find out about me by Googling me?”
If the answer is “no” to either of those two questions—and if you’re as success-oriented as me, then it probably will be—then I have “good news” for you, in that there are several things you can do to fix this, starting right now:
- If you have negative reviews written about you or your business, consider countering the reviews with some direct feedback for the negative reviewer, whereby you either ask for more specifics as to what they were unhappy with and what you can do to fix it, or by actively going about seeking better reviews from new or different customers (or by doing all of above, which is what I recommend).
- If you see people defaming you or your business online (that is, making false statements of fact that are damaging to you or your business’s reputation), consider contacting the host or owner of the website the defamatory language or content appears on and asking them to remove it or, as a last resort, hiring an attorney to file a civil lawsuit (if you can afford to do so), but only if you’ve actually suffered harm to your reputation (think verifiable embarrassment, lost income, etc.), lest a lawsuit will be a complete waste of your time, money, and resources.
- If there is a problem on your end, in that you have little to no presence online, in the form of a website, social media profiles, etc., consider hiring a web designer to help you set up a website, although this can be quite expensive (or, alternately, learning how to create one yourself, via the WordPress.org platform and ready-made WordPress templates, which make the process a whole lot easier and helped me build this very site), as well as setting up profiles for you and/or your business on at least Facebook and Twitter to start with, followed by perhaps an Instagram account (if what you do is very photo-centric), a YouTube channel (if what you do comes across best through video), and maybe even a Pinterest profile (if you run, say, a business where you either cook/bake or make handmade arts and crafts).
- Set up what are called “Google Alerts” for your name (as in, any variation of your name that you think people might search for) and your business, so Google can alert you, via e-mail, any time a website, blog, etc. mentions you or it, so that you can either promote the mention of you (if it’s beneficial to you) or work to counter it in some way (if it’s detrimental to you). Think of this as being like credit monitoring, but for your reputation.
I could dedicate an entire blog post just to “online reputation management”, and I could go into some very advanced strategies for building an online presence, burying negative search results, and using the “bad” stuff you can’t bury to your advantage, but I won’t (and will, in fact, save such things for another blog post), because this post is not so much about fixing your messed up reputation (or lack thereof) as it is about simply making you aware that you have one.
By making you aware of this fact, my hope is that you will be proactive about monitoring your online reputation, so that you can deal promptly with situations like the one that a friend of mine, a professional photographer, ran into just this morning, when I had her run a Google search for herself and her business. My friend, upon searching for her name via Google, found that someone who works for a “magazine” which supposedly operates out of New York and which had solicited her to submit her photos to them a month or two ago, had used the photos of her and her family she’d submitted to create a fake GoFundMe fundraiser, in her name, no less, in a fraudulent attempt to sucker unsuspecting victims into donating money to them.
Because my simple suggestion led my friend to Google herself, she, in turn, discovered just the type of damaging activity (or lack thereof) that can pop up around one’s name or business, like weeds growing up through the cracks of an otherwise beautiful-looking patio, if we don’t pay attention to what people are saying (or not saying) about us. It my sincere hope that by me having written this post for you that you will now do as my friend did and, if you haven’t done so already, Google yourself, if for no other reason than to confirm that your online reputation is truly as sterling as you may have assumed it to be.
If you do a search and find your reputation to, in fact, be 100% intact, that’s great. But if it’s not, just know that you’re not alone and that not I am not only not hard to find (as evidenced by a Google search of my name) but that I am here to help as well.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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