Have you ever tried to Google your name? Were you surprised at what this search engine managed to find? Have you ever wondered where the photos of that party you went to two years ago came from? Or wondered why that Facebook post about Justin Bieber comes up on the front page? Or nothing?
Your friends, girlfriends / boyfriends, parents, grandparents and future employers are likely to google you, it’s important to be aware of your image online. What comes out on that crucial first page of results should represent you in the most positive way possible by showing the world how awesome you are.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a simple four-step guide that will help you delete any content you don’t like and build something great instead.
1. If it’s private, hide it!
If you use Facebook or Instagram only for private communications and sharing, remember to activate the strictest privacy settings on these social networks. On Instagram it is advisable to create a private account instead of a public one if you don’t want everyone to see those selfies of you and your friends that you took last night in that nightclub. Avoid sharing and / or posting really embarrassing photos on any platform and don’t allow your friends to ‘tag you’ without your consent (Facebook allows you to control this feature).
2. Search your name on Google
Search for your name on Google. Did you find outdated, negative, or just plain embarrassing images or links? Use your Google+ account (if you use Gmail it means you automatically have a Google+ account) to share good quality, recent and serious personal photos that you wouldn’t mind seeing on a Google search. Remember to save the photos with your full name and make sure to enter as many personal details on your Google+ account as possible. This way Google will put this information in the first search results.
3. Create an account on LinkedIn
Create your LinkedIn page by completing it with your personal, academic and professional data. Remember that this is a professional platform (your digital resume) and you should only list work experience and skills relevant to your professional future, even if you don’t have a job yet. Don’t forget to use your real name in full so that Google can list it correctly. This way it will also show up in the top results in a Google search. Optional but useful: a professional, but not too serious, photograph to add to your profile (don’t forget to smile)! Ask someone who has a good camera to take a nice picture of you.
4. Buy a domain online: it will be the best purchase of the year
Consider buying your own domain to create a website. Flavors.me and About.me are great, easy-to-use websites that will allow you to create a personalized online presence in no time. (You can decide to embellish your web page with a full screen version of that beautiful photo you took in London last summer). Opening a domain and a web page costs from 20 to 40 dollars a year. In my opinion this is really an excellent investment, which will become more and more important in the future.