7 ways to avoid a shock when you search online for your name

Have you done a Google search on your name? Were you shocked by the results? You can be pleasantly surprised instead.

Years ago, during one of the first teleclasses I ever attended, participants were asked to share a pet peeve. Because the host chose to record and post responses without asking for permission, my pet peeve popped up every time I did a Google search on my name for the next several months.

I learned some valuable lessons from this and so can you:
• When participating in any online activity, look for a privacy policy and/or ask how information will be used, shared, and stored. Don’t assume you are just chatting with friends, peers, the podcast host, or your advisor.
• Remember your mother may have been right when she said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Online content has an even longer life than face-to-face dialogue.
• Listen well. Find a balance between lurking and monopolizing the discussion.
• Use your online content and conversations to become someone others can know, like, and trust by being honest, interesting, and interested in other people. Build quality relationships.
• Engage with those you know, like, and trust. Disengage from those who don’t share your values or respect your privacy.
• Take control of your online presence by adding sought-after content—sheer volume can displace less desirable material and move your name up in search engine results.
• Be your best self. You can’t control everything that appears under your name—especially if you have a common name—but you can add value and make a positive difference.


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