Sunday, April 3, 2011

Google Yourself to See How Other People See You

The measure of an entrepreneur used to be the number of real friends claimed, but times have changed. Now the measure is how many hits one has on a Google name search, factored by some formula, like the sum of all positive messages minus 100 for every negative message. If you don’t define yourself effectively, the Internet will do it for you in ways you never imagined.

That’s the reason every good parent should be coaching their child from birth to avoid posting all the naughty things on social networks that can come back to haunt them later. To illustrate the point, here is a true story posted by Seth Godin a while back:

“A friend advertised on Craigslist for a housekeeper.

Three interesting resumes came to the top. She googled each person's name.

The first search turned up a MySpace page. There was a picture of the applicant, drinking beer from a funnel. Under hobbies, the first entry was, "binge drinking."

The second search turned up a personal blog (a good one, actually). The most recent entry said something like, "I am applying for some menial jobs that are below me, and I'm annoyed by it. I'll certainly quit the minute I sell a few paintings."

And the third? There were only six matches, and the sixth was from the local police department, indicating that the applicant had been arrested for shoplifting two years earlier.

Three for three.

Google never forgets."

It doesn’t take much imagination to extend this example into your own business world, with potential customers and business associates checking you out. Can you imagine how many positives and how many years it will take to offset the impact of three negative posts entered by the entrepreneur herself in some spirited moments?

In reality, it’s not just the Internet that captures everything we do – just look around you at the cameras in public buildings, banks, and everyone’s cell phone. Remember the news with the videos of the latest celebrity exploits, or the cell phone photos that are snapped of every public and private activity and printed in magazines.

There’s still a bit of the “wild west” left in the Internet, especially as it relates to social networking sites, so keep your wits about you as you explore and act. Don’t be tempted into thinking that can safely relieve your tensions or aggressions in the anonymous massive numbers on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

In case you think the number of friends is a meaningful measure, remember that social networking has also totally destroyed the meaning of the word “friend.” Teenagers have hundreds of friends on Facebook by the time they are sixteen, most of whom they have never met face-to-face, and other people collect thousands on LinkedIn. Many of the top Facebook users boast proudly of their “whale” status (5,000 friends or more).

I’m not here to argue whether it is right or not. Just recognize that it is what it is. So do your business networking and social networking with your eyes wide open. In fact, if you live your business and personal lives that way, you might actually hope that someone is looking over your shoulder, and catches you in a glowing moment. Be known for your strength. Then you can be happy that Google never forgets.

Marty Zwilling




  1. Hahaha I love the examples from Seth Godin. But seriously, I am always so amazed at how public people make their personal lives online.

  2. It’s a great post, you really are a good writer! I’m so glad someone like you have the time, efforts and dedication writing, for this kind of article… Helpful, And Useful.. Very nice post!

  3. Google is like the all-seeing eye these days and posting something online is like advertising on a giant billboard for the whole world to see. In some ways, it can be super helpful and in another, quite scary. With social search just up our sleeves I'd say don't get yourself caught on anyone's cam, or maybe you can wear sunglasses in public events you might be embarrassed of ( laughs ).

  4. There is no doubt that the internet has forever changed the world in which we live. So it can only be expected that it would change the way we sell and marketing our businesses globally. Google is a great Search engine and as you said it never forgets any thing. So we have to be careful while dealing online.

  5. Thank you for great info. It was easy to read, but I'd like to add that if your business needs to be updated try mobile applications development.

  6. Great examples, reputation management for a business is really important and more proactive companies are using it as a proactive marketing tactic.