In managing your online reputation, start by giving some thought to your name. Is it fairly common? Almost exclusively unique? Give your name a Google and see what comes up. You might be surprised by how many people named Brady Atwood are out there.
The Common Name
If you have a common name, use your full name for professional materials.
If lots of Google results for your name that have nothing to do with you, consider using a more formal version of your name for professional purposes. Many folks do this already. Jim Ross might already use James R. Ross on his resume. Take this tact with your name in professionally-related materials, both online and off-line. When colleagues, potential clients and HR professionals search for you, they will associate the LinkedIn profile for James R. Ross directly with you and disregard the antics of Jim Ross, World Wrestling Entertainment commentator.
By using your full name, it becomes a more unique and unusual name. So, be sure to read the section below for tips on managing your newly unusual name.
The Unusual Name
If your name is as unusual as Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, lock up your personal material or use a pseudonym for personal posts.
I have the blessing and curse of an unusual name Kasha Frese. I don’t think you’ll ever meet anyone other than me with that exact first and last name. If you hear someone mention “Kasha Frese,” just assume they’re talking about me. Good or bad, they’re talking about me.
The same goes for search engines. When people put “Kasha Frese” into Google, any results with “Kasha” and “Frese” directly next to each other are going to be about me.
I don’t have the same worries that I might if my name was Jim Ross. Instead, I need to lock up any online material that I don’t want seen by the public at large. My Facebook and MySpace profiles are for friends and family, so they are set to private. I use a pseudonym when discussing my health or posting pictures of my cats. Those aren’t things potential clients or employers need to know.
I use my full name in professional profiles like LinkedIn and when I’m commenting on professionally-related articles. I also share light personal details about my life under my full name, so I don’t seem like a drone. But I keep the details private.
For example, I might mention publicly that I went hiking in Tennessee Valley over the weekend. But I’ll save the name of my date and all juicy details for my friends and family.