When did you last Google yourself?
Typing your own name into a search engine may seem vain or vapid. However, it is critical to appreciating the status of your personal brand.
The first impression most potential clients are going to have of you is not your carefully crafted website or your social media profiles. It is what comes up on a Google search.
Ideally these things may align, but that is not guaranteed. And it is important for financial advisers to be aware of how they appear when anyone searches for them.
The right way to do it
It may seem like a straightforward proposition to look yourself up online, but there is a way to doing it effectively. Firstly, make sure you are logged out of all Google accounts. And, secondly, use incognito or private mode.
Ideally, also use more than one browser, and more than one search engine.
This is important because you don't want the results to be influenced by your search history. You also don't want results personalised based on something like your location.
Different browsers and search engines will also produce variations in the results. It's worth getting as broad a picture as possible.
It is also worth setting up a Google Alert for yourself. This is a free service that will send you a daily or weekly email notification if your name appears online.
This is not about stroking your ego. It is necessary to know what is going up so that you can monitor, and potentially manage, your online reputation.
It can also be vital to know if you could get confused with somebody else who has the same, or similar name. It is far from unheard of for identities to be mixed up, and your reputation could be damaged because of something somebody else did.
Unless you are aware of this, you can't deal with it.
Build your brand
When you look at the results that come up on a Google search of your name, is there a common thread? Is it clear what your value proposition or particular expertise is?
This is something that financial advisers should build into their social media profiles. Instead of something generic, be specific about what you are offering. Are you an expert in addressing the needs of young professionals, for example, or supporting businesswomen?
As far as possible, articles or tweets that you re-post should focus on this area. Best of all, write your own blog posts and articles that position you as an authority on the subject.
Google prioritises websites that regularly publish new content. So having a blog to which you consistently add original content will also improve your visibility online.
Separate the personal and professional
For independent financial advisers particularly, it can be tricky to separate your professional brand from your name. If you are on social media like Facebook or Twitter, this can be an issue.
The best way to manage this is to have separate profiles. Have professional accounts that are public, but make sure that your personal social media profiles are kept private.
Even then, be mindful of how and where you are being tagged. Even if you have a private account, friends with public accounts may tag you, putting out something that you would rather not cloud your professional brand.
Managing your online reputation is not something that you do once and forget about. You have to monitor it constantly, and ensure that the image that potential clients are seeing of you when they search you online is one that you are comfortable with.
Picture: Benjamin Dada via Unsplash
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