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BLOGPersonal Branding Early Warning System

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Branding, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social MediaTagged as:

A common definition of Personal Branding relates to the first impression people have of you. What do your clothes suggest? Do you look friendly, or aggressive? Expressions such as “you only have one chance to make a good first impression” reinforce this definition further.

Here’s a second definition: what people say about you behind your back. Imagine two people talking, and one asks: “what do you think of so-and-so?” Their answer would define your Personal Brand.

Social Media provides an interesting opportunity to listen in on this discussion. Most people don’t recognize that buyers, recruiters, and others routinely do this, either to find “hidden” candidates/potential partners, or disqualify inappropriate ones. If you are invisible, or have a negative online Personal Brand, then you have a problem.

Each time you are listed on a web site, and each time you are mentioned within a post (or are tagged in a photo), your Personal Brand is tugged one way or another.

How do you find out about yourself online? Use a Personal Branding Early Warning System.  Here are some ideas:

1) Search on Google: Enclose your name “in quotes”, so that the results are more specific to you. And if you have a common name, consider using a second search term, such as your city, your profession, or other identifier.

2) Use Google Alerts: Google Alerts automatically send an email to you whenever a new page has been updated with your search terms (eg your name) on it. Check out

3) Review your Photos: Popular photo sites (such as Facebook, Instagram, etc) allow others to “tag” your name to a picture. Review these photos within your Social Media accounts and untag photos that are out-of-brand.  If the photo is particularly egregious, contact the person or organization who posted it, and ask that they remove it as well.

4) Search Social Media: While Google might bring up your profile page, it won’t bring up everything. Schedule monthly searches within Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other sites. And use tools like Hootsuite to automatically flag your presence.

Interestingly, both definitions of Personal Branding are correct: you only have one chance to make a good first impression, and your personal brand is defined by what people say about you behind your back.  The problem is that this first impression often happens in Social Media, as others “observe” the conversation about you, without your knowledge.


According to the Internet (and Social Media), what is your Personal Brand? Is it positive, negative, or completely invisible? This week, enable your Personal Branding Early Warning System, and if you don’t like what you find, or if you don’t find anything, resolve to do something about it.

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