You have spent years developing a strong personal network… yet over the past few years you’ve been letting someone care for it more than you do.
As an professional you could be looking at CEO reputation or how different online reputation types work. Depending on your roll in life, your personal and professional brand can drive between five to five hundred searches per month on your “personal name” as a keyword. For any professional with an interest in how other people perceive them, this is a critical point to understand.
If you are part of a team of professionals, these personal and professional name searches quickly escalate into hundreds or thousands of searches every month. An example management team with 15 to 20 members generates anywhere from 400 to 5000 searches a month. If this is a public facing group (I.E. executive or business development channel) then this search traffic is being entirely left unattended.
Think about this basic scenario:
Roughly one-third to one-half of individuals use search engines to find information on people they meet.
If you have recently attended a luncheon you probably handed out a business card or two.
If you attended a business conference in the past month you probably handed out a few dozen cards.
For every business card you handed out and for every hand you shook, how many of those people turned to search engines to do a quick double-check on who you are?
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT? People are searching.
Estimates on aggregate data places about 30 percent of searches on Google are for people.
These individuals are not looking for positive or negative information: just information. Yet the information they find is typically ANYTHING BUT YOU.
They find news clips, stories about people sharing your name, age-old profiles that you forgot, and hundreds of little fragments that they use to try and create a more coherent picture of who you are.
Unfortunately most companies are greatly failing in this regard. Some businesses even drive exposure to services like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter without recognizing and safe-guarding specific elements of the communication channel.
EXAMPLE: You have a business executive who is very active on Linkedin.When some searches for “first name, last name” they Linkedin profile is on top of the results and takes the lion’s share of the traffic.
When the traffic gets there, they are presented with information not only about the executive…. but are also presented with a variety of your competitor’s ads in the sidebar. (Linkedin and Facebook both allow targeted ads based on keyword and profile data, meaning that a savvy competitor can purchase ads on YOUR EMPLOYEES.)
This means that the professional is doing a great job of networking and driving leads to search for more information, but then competitors are pro-actively sniping “interested leads” using a better tactical understanding of digital presence.
If we magnify this type of scenario to include dozens or hundreds of sales channel representatives (or customer service), a large enterprise organization could be seeing a good percentage of qualified leads or even current clients being lost through bad strategy and guidelines.
At a strategic level companies need to examine the pipeline of where traffic is being generated and what specific professionals without an organization represent valuable communication assets. Overall volume of searches happening is relatively unimportant, as the quality of specific searches on top executives can identify prospects/clients that reach into the millions of dollars (B2B sales contracts, enterprise partners, investors, etc.)
On a tactical level companies should go through a list of merits versus flaws, weighing the value of each and making educated decisions to minimize the chance of loss. With a tactical list of issues identified, guideline frameworks need to be communicated to responsible parties within the organization to maintain a healthy digital presence.
What tips do you have for protecting your network?