Google Defines Your Personal Brand

By Kevin on July 12, 2011 in employee engagement

Go Google Yourself

Go Google yourself. You know, go type your name in between quotes into Google or Bing or one of the other major internet search engines and see what comes up. I’ll wait…

Did you really do it? What came back on you is basically what your brand is to those who don’t already know you. And of course you’ll see who your competition is (i.e., who else has the same name that is competing for the top Google rank). I compete with a super-cool skier x-games dude and a history professor from Princeton (amusing because I almost became a history professor myself –thankfully the grad schools I wanted, didn’t want me).

If Nothing Turns Up, You Have No Brand

And if nothing shows up for you on page one or two of Google, that means you have no brand. To the movers and shakers of the world you’re a nobody. But if that’s the case, don’t worry it could be worse. I know several people whose top links on Google point to articles about their DUI or bankruptcy filing or arrests for public protests. If you are in this unfortunate position the best thing to do is to write a bunch of articles, blog posts, or other things that will carry your name on it, so these new pages will eventually rank in Google and push the unwanted findings further down the link list.

The idea of a “personal brand” is currently in vogue, but one’s reputation and relationships have always been crucial to career success. Today is no different. What you do, and increasingly what you write, still defines you. It’s just that with the Internet, it’s just easier than ever before for your “brand” to be discovered and followed.

Do things and write about the things
that you want to be known for.

What you have to realize is that whether you want to be “on Google” or not doesn’t matter, you’re already there. Whether it’s your time in a 10K run, your LinkedIn profile (you are on LinkedIn aren’t you) or other miscellaneous data, your life is being indexed.

Rather than your brand being unintentionally built with your personal activities it is far better to intentionally build your brand in way that would make people conclude, “Wow, she’s really connected in the industry and knows a lot about our space.” At the risk of oversimplification, do things and write about stuff that you want to be known for. Do this consistently, and eventually Google will find it.

Increase Your Reach

Half of personal marketing is about what you’re known for—your brand—but the other half is about “reach.” How many people do you know, and how many people know you?

Gone are the days of stodgy business card exchanges and contrived meet and greets. From keeping in touch with former colleagues to staying in touch with current prospects, Internet technologies and social media platforms have reduced the friction of making and keeping connections. Now people can “connect” with you on LinkedIn, “subscribe” to your blog posts, and “follow” your posts on Twitter.

But I’m not suggesting that you jump on every shiny new web platform. In fact, the traditional ways to keep in touch—hand written thank you cards, phone calls to say hi, dinner parties and holidays cards—are increasingly rare and thus valuable in a high-tech world. There are unlimited opportunities to build a reputation among your peers.


1) Google yourself. What do you find? Good, bad or nothing at all?

2) Make your Facebook page private. Go check your Facebook privacy settings and make sure only your friends can see information on your page. Why would you want HR professionals, competitors, enemies or nosy neighbors to know what you and your whacky friends are up to on the weekend?

2) Sign-up for LinkedIn. If you’ve already done that, make sure you complete your entire profile. Every time you get a business card or meet new work-related people, look them up on LinkedIn and invite them to connect.

3) Create a blog. Pay someone $500 to setup a professional wordpress blog and make sure your name is the url, or at least the home page title tag. If you’re cheap, then just go start on blog on blogger, but make sure to put your name as the title or URL if at all possible. Write some blog posts. These index well and should rank highly when others Google your name.

4) Keep at it. What job do you want five years from now? What would a person who holds that job today be doing, reading and writing about? That’s how you should think of this. They used to say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” I say, write (ie, blog) for the job you want, not the job you have.

Note: This blog was adapted from the NY Times bestseller, We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement.


Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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