Own Your Online Brand

This past friday afternoon, I joined David Karp, founder/CEO of Tumblr, Dennis Crowley, founder/CEO of Foursquare, Aaron Earls of New Media Strategies, and Chris Grosso of NBCU at the MBA Media and Entertainment Conference to talk about social media.

This is a yearly event that brings together MBA students from Duke, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, and NYU who are interested in working in the media and entertainment sectors. 

At one point in the panel discussion, we got a question about how these MBA students should use social media in their job search. The woman asking the question specifically wondered how prospective employers would react their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

David Karp gave an interesting answer. He acknowledged that you have to be careful what you post to Facebook and who you “friend” and how you set your privacy settings. But even more important, David argued, was the need to “own your online brand.”

David suggested that the way to combat the unflattering photo of you is to “post lots of flattering ones.”

David’s point is that you can’t control what other people do (tag you in photos, post pictures you’d rather not see online, say awful things about you), but you can control what the Internet sees about you by overwhelming it with your social media presence.

I think David is right and I’ve certainly done that. If you search for fred wilson, you’ll see links to at least a half dozen social media properties that I’ve built a strong online presence on. You don’t see links to negative articles or blog posts about me, and there are some of them if you look hard enough.

Let’s contrast that with NYC Speaker Christine Quinn, who I know well and like. If you search for Christine Quinn, one of the top links is to a site called christinequinn.com not a website she’d like to have in her top links. What we don’t see in her top links is her blog, her Twitter, her Tumblr, etc. If she had all of those up and running and was actively posting to them, she might be able to run christinequinn.com off of the front page of her google search results.

A few years ago, I bought the internet domains of all three of my children’s full names. My two daughters now operate active blogs on their domains (I link to them on the upper right of this blog) and both of them come up in the first page of search results when you google their names. They still spend way more time on Facebook than their blogs but they are building their online brands at a young age. And they can tightly control what goes on those pages.

Chris Dixon and Charlie O’Donnell both advocate the value of the “blog as resume” and recommend starting one to everyone who asked for their career advice. I’ll join that chorus as well. We have hired all of our junior investment professionals largely on the basis of their blogs, not their resumes or linkedin profiles. You can learn so much more about a person by reading their blog.

So to all the people out there wondering about the role of social media in their career plans, I second David Karp’s recommendation. Build and own your online brand and don’t let others define it for you. 


Comments (Archived):

  1. vruz

    united colours of vruz wholeheartedly subscribes to these concepts.:-)

  2. Paul Geffen

    Better that a “blog resume” is a Google resume, where Google search results for your real name return a list of your accomplishments. This takes work, especially when someone else has the same name! But it can be done and it will become more important for anyone with a public life – as more and more of us do.

    1. Paul Geffen

      Oh, by the way, do a Google search on my name to see how it’s done. And let me know if you’d like my help to get you there!

      1. drorengel

        Paul , I’d be happy to know how to do thatThanks

        1. Paul Geffen

          Dror, I’d be happy to help you. Please start with my blog, at: http://blog.PaulGeffen.com and then let me know if you’d like to follow up with personalized one-on-one coaching.

    2. fredwilson

      great point.

    3. vruz

      your brand doesn’t necessarily have to be your real name.is it any useful to know your name is Paul ? I think not. there’s millions of other Pauls out there literally.there’s people who think internet nicknames, aliases or nyms of some sort are a sign of immaturity and that you should use your real name to sign serious works you’re proud of.tell that to David Robert Jones, Gordon Sumner or Louise Ciccone. (Bowie, Sting and Madonna, to name a few)

      1. kidmercury

        great point vruz. just wanted to add that some folks may want multiple brands, and thus have multiple identities.

        1. vruz

          oh I get you now. yes you’re right. you would indeed want your personal brand to be coupled with the identity of your startup for example.which reminds me it’s not something I’ve put a lot of effort on so far, but has to be addressed.so thank you.

        2. raycote

          You have nailed a seriously key branding concept.Purpose driven branding.No person or company lives it’s life out in a single purpose thread.

        3. zackmansfield

          Great point that I’ve lived out recently. I had developed an eponymous personal blog that I update with stories about my move to NY, life in the city and (recently) pics/vids/stories of our baby. I recently began blogging about professional stuff (VC world, and specifically venture debt) and since my name was “taken” I’m currently going with http://venturebanker.tumblr… and in process of securing a proper domain. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to 1 online brand, especially in cases when you want to maintain separate (personal/professional) identities. Nonetheless, it’s important to pay attention to what your brand is saying about you with all identities. I’m fine with knowing that by googling by name you see the personal blog – it’s who I am and ostensibly part of my professional life too, but separate in terms of day to day content I’m churning out.

          1. Tereza

            Zack — how often do you post to each?

          2. zackmansfield

            personal blog is 4-5 times a week; professional blog is new and goal is 1-2times a week

      2. Paul Geffen

        vruz, try a Google search for “Paul Geffen” to see what I mean.

    4. Tereza

      Have you seen startup http://www.vizibility.com. It’s a google “pre-search” and you get a “google me” button for your signature. You simply pre-screen confusing info that is not relevant to you — basically you are coding in an advanced search. (Note: they recommend against deleting search results on you. obviously this undermines your cred)Useful if you have a common name, or one that people can’t easily spell.

  3. andyswan

    “Control the message”What once was politics and PR, now is everyday life for professionals. Careful though….a message that is too finely crafted eventually breeds suspicion and backlash. Let them taste the failures that have defined your ultimate victory.

    1. fredwilson

      fortunately, you can’t totally control the web. for example, i can’t edit my own wikipedia page as much as i’d like to

      1. cindygallop

        Exactly – as per my reply to Brian above.

    2. JLM

      Of course, the other natural problem is that we all age — some more gracefully than others — and our philosophies of life change as we age. Real life experience has a way of doing exactly that.I wonder if we really want to present a continuum of time so accurately? I personally think not.”I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience.”I am often amazed at what a dope I was when I was 10 years younger and how much smarter I am 10 years later — unfortunately it seems to be a repeating cycle.

      1. Mark Essel

        I’ve found blogging, and public Net conversation to be a valuable memory assistant and tool for introspection.You appreciate the views you have now all the more so because of your short sightedness back then.I was pretty different 10 years ago. My biggest problem has been how unmalleable my environment has been.Now it feels like I can finally make a small change simple by listening to my instincts and tempering them with the wisdom hard earned by others.

  4. Brian Kung

    Would you suggest going for a certain image or the age old adage to “be yourself?” For instance, Lady Gaga. Her Lady Gaga image seems incredibly artificial to me, especially knowing how normal she used to be. Yet, it is an image that sells remarkably well. Not sure I could keep up an artifice like that on my blog.

    1. fredwilson

      be yourself otherwise someone will hire you based on false expectations

      1. awaldstein

        Be yourself is always the answer Fred.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Absolutely.As the old saying goes: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t …” – I am sure we can all complete the rest ;-)Our pervasive online presence nowadays makes this a very prescient adage. It was good old Abe’ who said it, wasn’t it?Wise man.

    2. cindygallop

      Brian – always be yourself. I have this conversation with many brand marketers. The new marketing reality is complete transparency. Everything a brand does today is in the public domain courtesy of the internet. And for brand marketers scared shitless at that prospect, the solution is exactly the same for a brand as it is for an individual. If you know exactly who you are, what you stand for, what you believe in and value, and you only ever behave and represent yourself in a way that is true to you, then you never have to worry about where anyone comes across you (online or off) because you are never doing anything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      I don’t think Lady Gaga is going to be interviewing for a job anywhere anytime soon.

      1. Brian Kung

        Excellent point. Then again, I have very little urge to interview for a job anywhere, either.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Me neither.

    4. raycote

      Lady Gaga is a pure fantasy persona brand. Most all Lady Gaga fans get that.The Lady Gaga rock fantasy brand brings in enough money so that her paid IT staff have no problem keeping up with her art-ificial web persona.If she so wishes, she can afford secondary real world personal branding.

  5. chris dixon

    Great topic. True story: The CEO of a public tech company called me up once and said “I heard you know about search. The top result on Google when you type my name is a NYTimes article saying I was fired from my last job.” The problem was: he was fired from his last job, and the NYTimes certainly wasn’t going to take down a true article, and NYTimes articles tend to rank very highly in organic results. Products that try to remove stuff like Reputation Defender won’t help in cases like this where there is no libel (which are the vast majority of cases). The only solution, as you say, is to build up your positive presence, and really the only way to do that effectively is to have something that gets linked to, which for an individual almost always means a good blog.Supposedly only 42% of americans have Googled themselves.http://www.marketingpilgrim…Presumably the other 58% are going to at some point and might be unpleasantly surprised by the results.

    1. fredwilson

      i bet there are people who provide “reputation defender” services. chris quinn needs to hire one of them

  6. Keenan

    Fred, I’ve been arguing this for quite sometime.I think for my children (ages 4 & 3) their online presence/brand will be their most valuable asset, worth more than their home, 401(K), etc.As more and more people come online, it will be the default place to learn about folks, find employees, ask for support, get into college, etc. Those who don’t have a presence won’t be able to compete, those with a poor brand/presence will be at a disadvantage.In the future, our net worth, the people we marry, the schools we go to, the neighborhoods we live in etc. will all be determined by our online presence/brand. I posted about it 6 months ago. Online Presence: Asset of the Future – Why Your Social Graph will be Worth as Much as Your Home http://asalesguy.com/2009/0…It’s not going to be a nice to have but a MUST have soon.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great title for a post (and a great post)

    2. rick gregory

      Assuming you’re right about the importance of a person’s online image (I’m not a business, ‘brand’ thanks), what’s the responsibility for the searcher/reader to interpret things?These posts always talk about what someone needs to do to control their brand but not about the need for people who look for information to be intelligent, critical consumers of that information. For example, it’s pretty obvious christinequinn.com isn’t an objective view of Quinn – I’d hope that people searching for information on her have the wit to realize that.We hear about people Googling job candidates, seeing party photographs on facebook and shying away from that person. However, their current employees – including their management – probably did these same thing 10, 20, 30 years ago – there just isn’t photographic evidence on the web. The outrage seem hypocritical in these cases.What I’m trying to say is that the producer of information can try to influence what’s out there and how it’s found… but the readers need to be intelligent about what they read. We simply can’t have a media environment where people look at the top results on a search engine and go “Oh, well that’s true…”

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        You are right, partially. Readers should be intelligent enough to interpret what they find. But on the other side, readers are humans. And when they read something bad, even when they know it can be exaggerated, it influences them, want it or not.

      2. raycote

        The old catch 22.You get to be in control of transmitting your messagesEvery Tom, Dick and Harry gets to decide what they meanLife is just not fair to anyone who is not a Tom, Dick or Harry.

      3. Keenan

        Completely agree, like anything “new” it’s clumsy at first. I think employers, and others will become more adept at using the web to learn about the entire person. But, it’s going to take time.

        1. leigh

          When the kids with the facebook pictures smoking pot are the Sr. Executives doing the hiring (which should be in less then ten years) the entire landscape will change and the debate will simply go away.

          1. Keenan

            Spot on!

          2. rick gregory

            I agree that time will take care of this. I’m just impatient. And, frankly, what Fred’s written here isn’t new advice. We’ve been seeing and hearing this for some time but rarely hear about the need for readers of the material to be critical consumers of the information they find on the web.

    3. JLM

      I appreciate completely the thoughtful insight that you present and I applaud the rigor of your analysis. It is difficult to find any flaw in your logic. It is an extension of a reality that is already here.I just hate and frankly fear the implication that we are going to become such a public population completely devoid of any real privacy.I have come to value my privacy and anonymity more and more as the implications of the social media and personal branding become more apparent.From a business perspective I applaud and embrace and champion it but from a personal perspective I completely reject it.I find it completely revolting that a complete stranger might be able to learn intimate details of my life. I want to be left alone and to move through life with a mask of my choosing enjoying the benefits of my own hard work while being completely inconspicuous.

      1. Mark Essel

        I’ve been at a few meetings where I see various members talking on and on about their knowledge, and positions. Stay quiet enough and they’ll even forget you’re there. It’s quite liberating, the moment they lose track of what is actionable for me, I get up and leave. Meetings tend to last about 95% longer than they have to, and are better served by small or private conversations.Your desire for anonymity just triggered that memory.

        1. Keenan

          I think the definition of anonymity will change

      2. Keenan

        “I want to be left alone and to move through life with a mask of my choosing”I think you will be able to where the mask of your chosing.You will just have to be deliberate about building it online. Think of it as similiar to how we “act” in the office today. We have an office persona that may be quite different than our home or private life persona.I don’t see it changing “much”. We are just going to have to be more careful with it. Hopefully, as more average people become visible and more of our human nature is available to everyone, we will become less judgemental.

        1. Tereza

          I think the challenge there is that it’s not about people being judgmental in an abstract sense. It’s about things like getting funding, getting a job, feeding your family.So in a slower analog world we were (somewhat) capable of cultivating dual personas — ie not ‘piercing the veil’ between the Business Owner and his/her other personas (Soccer Mom/Roller Derby Queen/Gay Artist/ Conservative Lay Minister). And sometimes these other personas indeed can conflict with the business persona.In the fast digital world I just don’t understand who has time to nourish and grow multiple digital personas? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.It’s hard not to avoid them blending. To figure yours out may be a very delicate balancing act which needs to work itself out over time.Hopefully, people will get less judgmental. But in the meanwhile, lots still are. And real dollars, jobs, business deals are at stake. So it’s scary.Some of us will work it out for ourselves, some won’t, some will get burned, some left behind.To me, that’s the chasm.

    4. Prokofy

      That sounds like an awful snobby and elitist and unfree world I wouldn’t want to live in. And the more you create this world, the more you will be backlashed by tacky anonymous services like Chatroulette or Forumspring.me or Omegle.

      1. Keenan

        I’m not sure I see where it is tacky and unfree.It is meerly an extension of the network based world we live in todayYou could actually argue that it is more free because it creates access for everyone not just the elite.One of the greatest advantages of the socially elite is access to the rich and powerful. Social media extends that reach to everyone.Sounds pretty “open” to me.Networks have been at the core of success and failure since the dawn of civilization. This just takes our networks and the ability to build them to the next level.

    5. raycote

      I’m old. Maybe it is too late to worry about persona branding issues and their commercial impact. My irrelevance sets me free. As the old advertising jingle goes “fizz plop – oh what a relief it is”.Organic social graph complexity is both an opportunity and a cures. Dynamic bottom up organic democracy or tyranny by the masses, the apparatchiks or the corporate overlords, all getting to look over your shoulder, breathing down your neck and second guess your every move?I am an optimist. I believe the organic always grinds out a statistical win over time. It is the grinding over time part that scares me. In nature, living organic systems, tend to have built in inertia dampening mechanisms and some sort of distributed redundancy by function, cellular containment, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, enough said.Our ever accelerating organic social net is , willie nillie, connecting everything to everything in a mad rush to establish the winners in this high stakes, food fight land grab. Speedy innovation, has historically been the great up side for a competitive market economy. At these speeds it will also have some costly unintended social consequences. Yes I know, social evolution always has attending services & disservices, risks and benefits. Yes I am a fool, I’m ready to rush in! I am much more excited by the possibilities than the risks here. But under these new high speed electric conditions our media ecology is now moving, integrating, at hitherto unknown speeds.I startS to feel like I did in 1965. Half way down a very large very steep hill on my cheap home made skate board with the little tiny weeny metal wheels, spinning vibrating, picking up speed well beyond the point of no return, without pain.I like to indulge myself with the following delusion:We are the Borg and we and only we will decide how to assimilate ourselves.This is clearly not the case as all things organic inevitably take on a life of their own. But still I cling to my delusional comfort food! It is hard for us old diehard control freaks to give ourselves over to the wisdom of the collective without a strong veto or brake pedal. I’ve looked hard but not found socialWebVeto.com or socialWebBrakePedal.com. Maybe someone here could do a startup that specializes in tamping down your web persona called LowBeamWebPersona.com. You will note that all three web domains are untaken :-))Note——–Hopefully no, thread bare, tread worn, overused, stereotype, cliches were critically injured in the making of this post. I do confess to loving them!

  7. daverad

    So true, both jobs I had before starting on my own the employer said they hired me because of something they read on my site.There are also so many tools which make it dead simple, from tumblr to wordpress, to posterous, and a site I learned about just 2 mins ago (and maybe a new favorite for personal branding) flavors.mealso any interns we had at holstee we always bring the ones with their own blog site, or side initiative to the top. if nothing else it show that they can manage the time to do things that are important but not critical – usually the hardest to prioritize.

    1. fredwilson

      That last point is interesting. Second time its come up in this thread and one that I had overlooked. Its a sign of discipline and work ethic, organization and prioritizationI check my girl’s blogs every day and when they go a week without a post I always ask them why. Finals week is a good answer. Nothing to post is not

  8. cindygallop

    Couldn’t agree more. I advise a lot of people on personal digital branding, stressing that today three things are critical: 1. You need to have a strong online personal brand presence. 2. You need to Google in the right kind of way. 3. You need not to Google in the wrong kind of way. All three things are within your control (including a number of aspects of the last one), and can be managed and effected relatively quickly from a standing start. I’m particularly amazed how many people, when I ask, ‘Who here owns their own name dot com?’, don’t – especially people within my own industry, advertising, who are meant to be brand/positioning/communications specialists *sigh* Your aim has to be to get your own website/blog up to Result 1 on Page 1 of Google – so that you define who you are and what you stand for before Google does it for you.For people with relatively common names or names shared by pornstars and the like, I recommend registering the(name here)dot com. Makes you the definitive one 🙂

  9. kidmercury

    damn boss a shame you dissed your “friend” christine quinn by linking to christinequinn.com from the body of your post while not linking to her blog, twitter, etc — a great way to empower the SEO rankings of christinequinn.com. hate to see the way you treat your enemies!

    1. fredwilson

      good point. not sure she has a blog. that was my point. but i didn’t mean to harm her with that link. sorry chris!

    2. Mark Essel


    3. fredwilson

      I fixed this by the way. Thanks for pointing out the issue

  10. kidmercury

    karp is a dropout right? lol, the dropout lectures the MBA students…..that just made my day. hope he lectured them on how staying in school is for stupid asses.

    1. maxkalehoff

      I’m not sure graduate degrees are for “stupid asses” but the value of an MBA is an interesting one. I’m going to lecture to an MBA class tomorrow at Columbia Business School, something I do periodically. I definitely don’t have an MBA, only a B.S. in journalism.

    2. JLM

      Putting aside the issue of “stupid asses”, I must say I applaud any business grad school which reaches into the real world for credible, experienced “doers” to educate their students.I also think that education never stops and it is important to never stop being educated. Not just in academic subjects but in real world things including simple physical skills like fishing and hunting and dancing.

      1. Aviah Laor

        must dancing? I could live with hunting, but dancing, well… 😀

      2. kidmercury

        agreed education never ends. that’s why i’m anti-school, it gets in the way of that process and turns one into a stupid ass. 🙂

  11. Herb Greenberg

    May be one of the most valuable posts you’ve written, Fred. Sharing w/my kids.

  12. Dave Pinsen

    Fred,How would you describe your daughters’ respective brands, based on reading a few pages of their respective blogs? And why doesn’t your son blog?

    1. fredwilson

      they are developing their “brands” around the things they love; fashion, photography, NYC, etc

      1. Dave Pinsen

        I guess that ties in with your response to Brian Kung: these blogs may help them if they end up working in fashion, but it would be tough for them to tell an interviewer that they’re interested in some other field that they never blogged about.

        1. fredwilson

          Right. But they are 17 and 19. In time their blogs could evolve to talking about stocks and options if that’s what they find interesting at 22.

  13. dkhare

    Important topic. Two points:1) for mainstream web users to manage and grow their online reputations, far simpler tools are needed. Without this, Facebook status messages and tweets will drive an implicit reputation.2) as web users leave their footprints across an increasingly greater number of social media services (location, purchase history, opinions, health info, professional accomplishments, future plans, …), aggregating this personal data in one place to drive search rankings could be useful.

    1. fredwilson

      Agreed. I think tumblr is as easy as it gets. Domain mapping is one step. They should offer domain registration come to think of it

      1. Joe Siewert

        Built in domain registration would be a great feature to add in. Would streamline the process to owning your personal brand even more.

  14. Chris Selland

    Almost didn’t read this because there are so many ‘personal brand’ posts out there (that all say essentially the same thing). But I’m really glad I did – it was YOUR personal brand that convinced me – so there you go. Good stuff…

  15. drorengel

    Great Post Fred,Thanks for sharing. I truly see how HR companies help future candidates in this field as paid service

  16. William Mougayar

    Agreed, And the barriers of entry into the online world keep getting lowered. It all started that you had to have a website (when it wasn’t as easy to build one), and then moved to blogs (which later became out-of-the-box). Now, you can get an instant Twitter presence and your Tweets are indexed by Google within minutes; Facebook/MySpace are also now open to Google search results, and your comments on other blogs are also indexed and available to all.My advice to anyone starting from scratch today (even small businesses) is start with a Twitter presence, then Facebook page, then participate in online comments, and you may never need to have a website.

    1. treitnauer

      Your advice is good but I think there is a need to actually own your web address. You can’t own a Facebook URL or sub domain on Tumblr.Your username does not belong to you:http://iwantmyname.com/blog

      1. rick gregory

        actually, you can claim your name (or any string) as a facebook URL… and should. I agree you should try to get a domain of your name, but the problem with that is that there is only one domain possible for each name for .com addresses. This is expanded a bit by using other TLDs, but for anyone with a even slight common name, the option quickly becomes impossible.

    2. fredwilson

      I don’t agree. I think you need a place that operates under your personal domain that you can totally control. I have several of them

      1. William Mougayar

        I meant that gradually one can start with Twitter and work up to the website. I know small businesses that are happy with Twitter and Facebook and haven’t jumped the hurdles of the website. These are Hyperlocal businesses. When you’re busy operating the business with a family staff of 3-4, you don’t have time or $ to do websites. There are lots of mom and pops businesses like that. Their brand is a hyperlocal brand only, and they can be indexed and visible online without a website.

  17. cindygallop

    Just because the readers here might be interested: my startup, http://www.ifwerantheworld.com – currently in 2 1/2 weeks-old minimum viable product, real-world beta torture-testing mode, I hasten to add !:) – is designed to bring a new dimension to personal branding online. As a side effect of the core proposition (turning good intentions into action via microactions), your profile on IfWeRanTheWorld builds up in a way that can’t be faked: entirely generated by your actions, and thus enabling you to self-identify and self-express in a very specific way – you are what you do/you are the sum of your actions. You can then integrate your actionprofile from IfWeRanTheWorld with your profile on other online social networks (FB integration coming this weekend, others to follow) so that it adds a new dimension – ‘this is what I believe in and this is what I’m doing about it’. It’s designed to work as the antithesis of and the antidote to the ’employer/college submissions office discovers FB profile w pic of u w bong’ problem, balancing out the fun and frivolity of FB and other web presence, with real-world real-time action – very much in line with Fred’s and David’s points above about creating a fully-rounded-out web presence that communicates a more multi-faceted and less easily written-off picture.

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve been hearing about this new service cindy. I’ll check it out

  18. Matt Bartus

    This is great advice, something I intuitively knew but hadn’t gotten things reserved for my young kids (both of whom are under 5). I’m glad I only had two — it’s plenty of work to reserve email addresses, domain names, twitter handles, etc. for two kids!

    1. fredwilson

      You’ll be glad you did but the twitter handles are at risk if they are inactive for 6 monthsPut something on them. Maybe a twitterfeed of your flickr posts of their best pictures???

  19. Guest

    Does it have to be a blog to start? I tend to think that its good for people to get involved in conversations, however they feel comfortable to start. Get on linkedin, twitter, 4sq. Follow people whose work you’re interested in and try to get in the dialog.If I were looking at two otherwise equal candidates, one who had no online identity and another who at least had a twitter page following a smart set of folks, it would mean something to me. My view is that a person’s online conversations define their brand, and that there are many ways to get in on the conversation.

    1. barryhurd

      It doesn’t need to be a blog to start, but owning your own domain name is well worth $10 a year. That $10 asset will pay for itself 100x over during job hunting, prospecting, personal brand campaigns, or reputation work.

    2. fredwilson

      A tumblog is better than facebook and twitter because you can map your domain, post whatever you want including thoughtful long postsIt gets you seo on your own domainTumblr is the easiest platform out there for this kind of thing

      1. Guest

        That makes sense — Tumblr is a nice middle ground and step from twitter/fb to a full blog. I wanted to push back a bit on online brand = start a blog right away as its more intimidating than something like “start having honest conversations online.”Even if you don’t want to blog (for reasons I’ll explain below), you can still start to control what employers see when they google your name by doing things by keeping up-to-date linkedin and google profiles. And updated content like twitter is even better, and tumblr even better than that, but its natural for people to start slow and @cdixon screaming “you NEED to create a personal blog now” can be a bit intimidating for some folks.More examples: If you’re a good hobby photographer, even a great flickr account is a decent start. If you’re a runner or a kayaker, start logging some runs with your real name. Creating content can be hard when you have to write it, but there are easy ways and services that turn things you do into content (as 4sq turns going out to content).If the bigger point is that your online conversations and interactions will be something employers can see and judge you by, then there are many ways people can get in on the conversation without limiting it to one form.Does an empty blog look better than no blog to potential employers? Does a ghost-town blog signal to the employer that this person starts things they do not finish?In the larger scheme of things, perhaps a blogger is a “professor” role that one needs to develop. It seems that some people naturally want to teach and help others (you and @cdixon, for example) and that others are perfectly successful in similar roles without being dedicated bloggers.

      2. Charles Birnbaum

        As a fairly new Tumblr-er, I agree wholeheartedly that the product delivers exactly what most “normals” are looking for. As evidenced by my one-day-late response to this post, many people really need a simple forum for expressing / recording their thoughts and controlling their online identity. This is particularly true when a busy schedule, or final exams!, makes it difficult to enter into comment conversations in a timely manner. These conversations, like the one here at AVC, are the most interesting and rewarding way to own your online brand, but I recently learned that I needed more. Tumblr is helping me solve that problem.

  20. Aviah Laor

    guys, the real problem of these teens is that one day they will be parents, and it will be VERY hard for them to sell the noble-parenting image to their kids. “Daddy, who is this girl in this picture? What are you doing?”It will not be that funny 😀

    1. fredwilson

      I’m going through that now. Its really is just fine. It helps them to know that the gotham gal and I had fun when we were their age too

  21. cindygallop

    Entertainingly, an article in today’s NYPost on exactly what we are all discussing here – ‘Idiocy In The Age of Facebook: Why you’re not getting that job’:http://www.nypost.com/p/new

    1. fredwilson


  22. Greg Gentschev

    Just make sure to back up your online brand with actual achievements. Focusing too much on the brand in isolation can lead you to have presence but no substance. So go out and do something meaningful (whether that’s entrepreneurship, coding, cooking, photography, thinking, or whatever) and then blog about it.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes, yes, yes

    2. RedMaven

      I think you hit it on the head, “Just make sure to back up your online brand with actual achievements.” The key word that I love in that statement is ACTUAL.Too many times has there been people claiming this and that, but have no fruit to show for it. No matter how small or large the accomplishment, just make sure it is true.@RedMavenVC Fund Managerwww.moneyisjustanidea.com

  23. dotJenna

    I had a negative website built about me similar to the one shown of Christine Quinn, and I took the woman to court who wrote it, received a protective order, and a judgment in the amount of $299,000 for business losses. The website was riddled with libel and slander. The court case cost me over $10,000 and it was a nightmare, but I feel much better in that I protected myself. Now, if anyone says anything negative about me, I just recite the court case and they leave me alone. Interesting outcome to a very stressful situation.

  24. ghuger

    Fred,I enjoyed your post, but one small thing – you should unlink (or at least nofollow) the link to the nasty site about your friend Christine. That link will make it harder for her to outrank it later, should she decide to.

  25. maxkalehoff

    Fred, I’m keen on purchasing my kids’ domain names. The obvious suffix seems to be .com, since it is the most ubiquitous. But the emergence of so many additional suffixes mean less scarcity and potentially more bases to cover, in order to ensure claim on your online identity. Should I be purchasing my kids domains with multiple suffixes? Additionally, should I be starting Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for them as well, to claim their names in those venues? My son just turned three, and my daughter is one-and-a-half years.

    1. Paul Geffen

      It doesn’t cost much to buy a domain name. If you just want the domain, you can get it for $10 per year or less from many registrars. You can redirect the domain to a page of your choice – no need to pay for hosting.

    2. fredwilson

      There’s no perfect answer. I went with firstnamemiddlenamelastname…. They already have their own FB and Twitter handles so I didn’t bother with them. Be careful with twitter handles. If they are not active for 6 months, you could lose them. I suggested one way to solve that in another reply

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Regarding twitter usernames, you can’t claim an inactive one any more. You could in the past, but they don’t do it anymore. I wrote a post about it a couple of months ago:http://fernando-gutierrez.c

    3. Joe Siewert

      By the time they are old enough to use/want accounts like FB, Twitter, etc. those services may not be relevant anymore or even exist.

  26. jaredhecht

    Awesome post. Totally agree. Establishing an online hub and presence is an important thing. On a related note, I think hiring practices can be revolutionized by focusing on candidates’ online hubs. The conventional resume and job application process is outdated – should be replaced with an online presence. Wrote about it here: http://jaredhecht.com/post/… (sorry for the plug!)

  27. Herb Greenberg

    Question for anybody: How do you make sure your online presence in search results overwhelms any libelous trash and nonsense that may have been posted on non-journalistic blogs that lack accountability? This is certainly one of the downsides of the current state of the state! Anybody can say anything about anybody without any repercussion. That was one thing old media couldn’t do. There were rules of engagement. Sadly, in this age in which everybody’s a star, those rules have been tossed out the window, IMHO.

    1. Paul Geffen

      Herb, the answer to your question lies in understanding how the Google search engine ranks sites. While the exact formula isn’t public knowledge, we do know that it has something to do with inbound and outbound links. That means Google likes to see a balanced or symmetrical network of related sites. You can’t get a good rank just be creating a lot of links to your site. Fortunately you can control both ends of the links. For more details, see my blog: http://blog.PaulGeffen.com – the information there is free!

  28. Apolinaras Sinkevicius

    One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made, while I built my career in Chicago, was to not build an online identity. I was a business operations guy spending countless hours in the office taking care of my teams. Nose to the grindstone and no time for myself. 10 years into my career I had to move to Boston for my wife. I had zero network, nobody knew me, and it was like starting my career from zero. I quickly devised a plan of attack. Twitter, LinkedIn, blog, etc. Within months people started recognizing me at networking events from my LeanStartups.com blog. I no longer had to “break ice”, because conversations went immediately to an article or two I have read (and since I am a no BS person, those articles tend to be very direct and firey at times).Two years later, my online brand has led to consulting gigs, new friendships, and professional connections.In addition, since I am an operations and execution is what I do, I chose to opensource my knowledge, which has led to some great “business karma”. I am now separating my personal brand into The Operations Guy (TheOperationsGuy.com) and will try to attract more guest posters to LeanStartups.com to spread the message of capital efficiency and meritocratic corporate cultures.

  29. barryhurd

    I’m with you Fred. I bought my son’s name the month he was born (granted this is also my line of work.)I’ve been working with personal digital brand / reputation concepts since working on Monster way back in 1996. Even back then, it was a top question with recruiters in how they could manage resume pools and candidate inventory. With the most recent push of web adopters, this new media channel is starting to take the internal candidate resource system into the cloud.I also write a lot about this subject, you can read a collection last week affectionately named “the reputation toolbox” http://socialmediareputatio…Professionals really need to think about this stuff today, rather than when they find themselves looking for a job. The long term frameworks are much more time and cost effective when compared to suddenly trying to “jump in” and land a new job.

  30. Eric Friedman

    Owning your online brand now goes beyond a domain investment into email, social networks, and owning your namespace. Owning your namespace in search is the most important as it is the first step to reach you when someone only has one piece of information – normally your first and last name.I agree with David’s points, and after seeing the Christine Quinn website it is clear you have to do what you can to dominate search results for the most relevant information. Having a brand online vs. a namespace is also something to consider. I actually suffer from this problem as I have not done much “marketing” in awhile but have that mindshare when people visit my blog – hence suggesting people go with a phrase or full name for a online destination 🙂

  31. Hershberg

    Nice to see the amount of attention this topic has been getting lately. Back in 2007, Matt Creamer, then an editor at Ad Age, approached my former company (Reprise Media) because he was not appearing prominently in search results for his own name. There were several unrelated listings coming up, some of which were compromising Matt’s reputation as a professional journalist. We subsequently gave Matt a blog to archive all his online published work and then created and cross-linked 13 different social media properties. By the end of the engagement, not only did Matt’s blog occupy the number 1 position when searching for his name, but he had control over 60% of Google’s first 3 results pages, and the all “irrelevant” listings had been pushed off of page 1.Matt documented our efforts in a December, 2007 article he called “Optimize Me.” While the world of social media has evolved significantly since then, the approach people can use to building/owning their own brands remains very much the same. Unfortunately, AdAge requires that you register to access the article, but it’s well worth the read: http://bit.ly/bCsrko

  32. Prokofy

    I personally refused to be bullied by online social media moguls telling me I have to “manage my brand” or telling me they won’t hire people based on what they find or don’t find on Facebook. That’s totalitarianism. I run a very controversial blog and I say lots of controversial things. So I constantly have people stalking, bullying and harassing me and attempting Google bombs. There’s one particular fellow who was an IT geek turned lawyer who was out of work for a good while who had nothing to do but harass people in Second Life in his role-playing as a crusading district attorney against what he saw as pyramid schemes and then harass me when I pointed out that he wasn’t applying elementary notions of due process and discovery in investigation. He put up a hate page and Google bombed it and got it linked everywhere and to this day it shows up in my results. However, when he finally got work as a real lawyer, he took down his hate page. He realized that his hate page was more harmful to *his* career than to mine. I don’t worry about hate pages and just do what I do. Those who are discouraged and deflected by Google bombing and negative commentary and those who judge others by some Tweet or Facebook pic somebody else took aren’t the kind of people I’d want to work for or do business anyway. And more and more, people will assert freedom from these people and use the very tools of social media to expose them, too.

    1. Mark Essel

      You brought up a great point about our “online presence”. Negativity usually reflects poorly on the one who pushes it.Here’s something short I wrote in relation to this topic: The Art of War with Social Media.

  33. Mark Essel

    To own our online brand, we must genuine interests. The Net is rich with opportunities to define our intent (broadcast & public conversations).I’ve spent only a fraction of my life dedicated to understanding the nuances of social media, but there’s solid evidence that our interactions leaves a lasting legacy. The digital shadow we trace is a potent information channel. Not just for finding a job, but meeting like minds who want to change the world (it can start with small initiatives) and co-founders :)! Even wildly wealthy moguls enjoy teaming up with other titans to pursue grand goals.Social Gesture:A trend I’ve recently observed has to do with one of the psychological motivations for social sharing. A challenge we face throughout our lives is self expression and identity. Beyond overloaded schedules and activities that distract us, we find time to communicate and share interests on social channels like blogs, social media, and other media sharing platforms. I describe this activity as social gesture.We express our desires in hopes of marketing our thoughts, to strengthen them with feedback, to communicate with others who share our interests, to discover potential collaborators & partners, and to search for valuable information. There’s a growing fountain of information that we create and wish connected to our identity, to help shape the world around us. At least in the space of web technologies, we can begin to adapt the environment and personalize user experiences. I imagine this trend will rapidly extend into the space of the real with augmented reality.

  34. glen_NIXTY

    Couldn’t agree more! We at NIXTY think this is particularly important for a person’s future educational and occupational opportunities. A blog is great and a LinkedIn profile is great too; however, we think what is needed is a more robust ePortfolio – an online presence that has a cv/resume, recommendations feature, and work display. The work display is particularly important because it allows the person to post work (documents, videos, papers etc.) that illustrate their competence. Further, it allows those w/credibility (professor, supervisor) to comment on the work so that others can get a better way of assessing a person’s competence.People definitely need to be proactive about defining their presence online. This is just one small way that we are trying to help.

  35. Keith B. Nowak

    I think the conversation around a “blog as a resume” is quite interesting but a problem I’ve seen with the proposal is that people who do not blog are seen as inferior to those who blog. I’ve seen this suggested in terms of deciding who to hire and which venture capital partner to choose. In both cases, the fact that someone has a blog makes them “better” than those who don’t. I certainly see the value in creating a venue where people can easily get to know you but I think blogging has more to do with one’s personality than level of intelligence or particular qualifications. Of course, many bloggers are incredibly intelligent but one does not necessarily ensure the other. For example, I write almost every day but I have always preferred to do this long hand. In fact, I often refer to my Moleskine notebook as my analog blog. A blank page on my desk and the slowness of writing vs typing is more appealing to me when thinking through an issue or transcribing my thoughts. I don’t blog not for a lack of content but as a matter of preference. I fear that with this trend those of us that do not blog will be discounted up front.What is exciting to me about services like Twitter and Disqus is that there is now the opportunity to participate in the conversations happening online and create an online identity without having a blog. I think the sum of these activities can also provide a good picture of a person, especially if coalesced in one places like a flavors.me page. I believe aggregated activity across services like Twitter, Disqus, Foursquare, and Blippy will increasingly become how many people create their online presences since the barrier to entry and the level of effort to produce content is much lower than blogging.

  36. Guest

    Fred,This is exactly the thesis behind our company http://www.peoplelex.com . We not only build websites/blogs for students, we also create school/program specific directories (e.g. http://www.newschoolgpia.org ) so that the directories become a much better form of a resume book.Love to get your thoughts.Nik

  37. ShanaC

    On one hand, I do find it a tad remakrable that among my close friends, I am one of maybe 2 who owns my name (it is helpful that I have a somewhat more unsual name in the West)On the other had, having done art in this field (and with plans to continue doing so), I am worried about the continual professionalization of myself and my body on the internet, with less places to hand loose. I think it is bad for the psyche to have no places to express its underbelly, its anxieties, with less fear of judgement. Some of my work explores the tensions that technology brings upon us. By exposing us to a hyper mediated society, we in essence are becoming as perfect (or as unperfect as you were) as the machines that enable the mediation. In reality, our flesh causes all sorts of fantasies that allows our concious and subconsious to work out problems in private and semi-rpirvate. The in ternet and it related machinery in some ways takes that away from us. I’m nervous to keep photos up on facebook for more than a week, if only because I understand the multiple powers of those images on facebook. (I move them to flickr, where they become part of a much more anonymous mass, in my own opinion)Where should I and those who grow up after me go in order to grow into identity, including the messy parts? where should those older than me go as well (identity is something, thanks to the harvard study, that we now know we constantly grow into) Are there places we can buy away that we can create for semi-private fantasies, to allow for our reveries and celebrations, our moments of despair? where we can work out the little parts of ourselves, outside of the public looking on us for a perfect reaction in front of the internet camera?

    1. ShanaC

      I’m following up on myself. As odd as this sounds, I am oddly paralyzed by the fact that parts of my most intimate life are well known to the public at large. My name has been SEOed. I’ve been branded. But at the end of the day, I’m jealous of a more pre-technological time, because it is so much harder to really know me. I’m paralyzed by the idea that I have men following me around on facebook.It makes developing those slow relationships, those precious ones, so much harder. And so much more stressful, because I have even less of a clue of what I am doing…

  38. Shurtleff

    Timely Post. I have been deeply involved in search for a CEO for a position that is not directly in media arena but that uses social media as an important mechanism for communicating with key constituencies. FB and Google results are not a major component of our search, they are however A Component and have providing fascinating insight into our final candidate pool. From an interview methodology perspective, I advocated do the interview first, the online search second. This keeps the interview unbiased by sometimes unreliable online results (post coming on this whole process)

  39. Shigeyuki Kuriyama

    All our information shall be ‘half online’; it shall keep all of us honest and good parents!?

  40. John Sharp

    Couldn’t agree more. A blog tells you four things about a person:1. Their history 2. Their personality 3. Their work ethic (post frequency/time)4. Their fan baseAnd that’s before you even get to the heart of what is being posted.

    1. fredwilson

      Interesting point about work ethic

  41. Reykjavik

    Perhaps these wacky Europeans will next try to legislate people’s ability to control online information about them. That will clearly show how nineteenth century the EU’s model of privacy is. I don’t subscribe to the “everything’s an open book” model of today’s youngsters, but everyone definitely has a role in shaping their online brand.

  42. marnisalup

    I agree completely and think that understanding public relations and reputation management at a young age strategically empowers students and gets them prepared for the real world.Being several steps ahead and aware of the repercussions of your actions is not just about personal branding but life in general. If students can relate to this from managing their rep on Facebook, it’s a great start,Learning early on how to build your online brand by disseminating you own positive messaging about yourself and offering content that defines your personal brand is a very smart approach to “owning and controlling” your reputation.

  43. Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

    I am in complete agreement with this post. Branding is terribly important. I would take it one step further and say — the most efficient way of keeping your branded blog current is to aggregate all of your social network activity streams into a life stream. And as Greg4 just stated — don’t get lost in your blog. You need actual experience.

  44. Tereza

    Here comes Tereza with another Female comment.In principle, I totally agree with you, Fred.Now here’s my reality. I’ve been procrastinating on getting my blog up for a very long time. Clearly it’s not for lack of stuff to say, given the general length of my comments (my comments could probably be freestanding blog posts). It’s the theme or tone that I struggle with – and has me somewhat paralyzed.For 20 years I’ve worked my ass off to gain credibility in a man’s business world – to get in and out of the big schools, into the boardroom, present to the big guns about the big ideas. I have tempered my inclinations to appear passionate or wear my heart on my sleeve, on the advice of many “suits”. If it might undermine my credibility, I avoided it.Blogs have entered a world where – let’s be honest — women are still not in the boardroom or executive leadership. Only 3.8% of VC-funded businesses are led by women. While women follow men on Twitter, that relationship is generally not reciprocated. Women’s entrepreneurial business endeavors are generally perceived as teeny, cute, and incremental (think BeDazzled baby t-shirts, artisanal blueberry jam, and interior decorating). To be fair – it bears saying this perception isn’t all the guys’ fault.So here’s my conundrum. Blog — and keep it strictly business — so as not to risk my female- or family-perspectives undermining the power of my business bad-ass-ness? The problem: stripped of a strong personal connection, it’ll be <yawn> bland and undifferentiated. Who can motivate on a regular basis to write and be just “okay”? And who’d want to read that? Blech.OR – follow the passion, and blend the personal with the professional, like they really are in real-life. BUT risk ‘the guys’ concluding, errantly, that I’m a small thinker with small goals. There are lots of fabulous, enlightened guys on this board. But hey, there are also those that won’t “get it”.I guess you walk into this knowing if you’re saying anything interesting, you’ll probably have some haters. And I guess I’m OK with that. And I’m definitely a swing-for-the-fences kind of gal.The working title for my blog is “Mashups, Markets and Motherhood”. My thesis is that there are massive, disgusting gobs of money to be made where technology intersects with the real needs of real women – and that this value creation has barely begun.I’d be interested in knowing whether any of what I’ve said here resonates with anyone here.

  45. shehab

    I was at the NYU Stern panel Fred (and am a proud bearer of a foursquare doucehbag badge!)I successfully reclaimed my online presence a little while ago when shifting directions in my career and wanting to drag my online footprint along with me. The fire-hose strategy is effective, I think my first page or two of results is now links to various social networks profiles (though I have the advantage of a less common name). Owning your domain names, writing active blogs are also effective and the latter has been an unbelievable communication and networking tool.I am struck by how much resistance there still is for this personal branding amongst MBAs. Perhaps it differs at other universities, I am thinking of the west coast in particular, nevertheless I had expected to see much more profile management at business schools when I moved to New York late last year.

    1. jpwoodland

      I was at the NYU conference as well and enjoyed this panel. Coincidentally, the Times published an article on Friday about personal branding. It asks an interesting question: “Will personal branding divert power and influence from the well-educated to the merely well-branded?” http://nyti.ms/cs7Z6AI think what you heard from the woman who asked the question is common amongst MBAs. There is still more fear of what could go wrong rather than seeing its potential. I know for me personally it’s all to do with simply dedicating the time to do it right. If done half-assed you’ll likely do more harm than good.

      1. shehab

        Borrowing a comment from another thread: don’t let great be the enemy of good. There’s something to be said for just getting on with building an online profile, it is after all something that takes time to develop and the sooner it is incorporated into one’s daily / weekly routines the better the output tends to get.Outside of ‘personal branding’ it’s also an incredible communication and networking tool. I have built some very real relationships via blogging and twitter etc.

        1. jpwoodland

          Point well taken on not letting great be the enemy of good!

      2. shehab

        Thanks for sharing the NY Times article btw, interesting to see how all this transfers over to diplomacy.

    2. fredwilson

      “Profile management”The new core curriculum course at b schoolsI love it!Did you enjoy the panel?

      1. shehab

        There are in fact workshops at Columbia on using LinkedIn and social networks as part of the job hunt but one on ‘Profile management’ would probably be useful for many students. I imagine this is in part an age thing. In a few years, when it’s the digital natives at grad schools workshops of this sort may be redundant.The panel was interesting but I did leave the conference thinking there might be more effective formats. Having five panelists discuss a topic for an hour and a half makes for a good introduction to a topic but I would also enjoy a smaller panel or even just an interview format that allowed deeper discussions on how thought leaders view their industries.

        1. fredwilson

          i’m not a fan of panels to be honest

  46. Mayank Sharma

    I would tend to disagree a little here on using the blog as a resume part. Everyone is not creative enough to keep an active readable blog. And so to give preference who blogs and has a huge fan following may be injustice to the quite guy who can churn out decent code at a drop of a hat. Moreover don’t forget that maintaining an online profile is a time consuming exercise. It’s easier if you are famous, but if you are building one, it’s gonna take a lot more time to build one from scratch. My suggestion would be to build something which makes you famous and then try and maintain your online presence that you get as part of being famous.

  47. Kevin Cimring

    Fred, what are the key differences between a “normal” blog, for example this blog (avc) as compared to tumblr – and what are the benefits of having both?

    1. Florent Peyre

      Kevin,So personally, the way I approach it is that I segment my online discussions depending on the platform. I have a more serious blog on WordPress where I would potentially write longer pieces, but not very often. Then I would use one Tumblr blog to post anything music related (stuffs that I love right now etc., nothing related to tech or my professional life) and then I’m using a second Tumblr blog to share little bits and pieces of my readings online, small comments, videos, photos etc. This way, I try to keep coherence between the different platform and I won’t bore the guy who’s following me for my music taste with my view on angel investing… ;-)Hope it helps.

    2. Florent Peyre

      Also to add a last piece, I’m wondering what is worth of “public profile aggregators”. I’m thinking of services like Flavors.me that enables you to build sort of an online portfolio of your social presence on the web and a unique contact point.Are these guys aiming at becoming the center of that notion of “profile management”?

  48. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I sometimes mull over whether I should persist as being ‘egoboss’ on the ‘net or simply be me, myself, I – especially as most people seem to miss the intended irony of the egoboss branding.

    1. fredwilson

      I say stick with it. But build connections (in search and social media) between your name and your brand

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Good point/s – I need to work on that. Ta, Fred.

  49. James Alexander

    One way to define your own brand is to help people get to your Google search results in one click. Fred, I like how you added a link to your Google search in your blog but this rarely works for the masses. You dominate the search results, which is probably a big source of frustration for the 43 other “Fred Wilson”s with Google profiles and the 100+ “Fred Wilson”s with a LinkedIn page.As a guy with two first names, I suffer from the same problem myself. My solution was to create the perfect search query for me, in essence taking ownership of my search results altogether. I can now be one-click ‘Googled’ at http://vizibility.com/james. I have put this link on my LinkedIn page under the tag “Google Me”. It is in my email signature and on other online profiles as well. When anyone clicks this link, I get a text message that I was just searched and I get notified whenever my search results change.This was such an interesting, timely approach to so many people that I just launched a new start up called Vizibility to make it available to anyone.

  50. andrewparker

    I often wonder about this question in the context of my father. Even if he blogged every day, started writing columns for multiple national newspapers, spoke at conferences, etc… he’d never pierce the top 10 of the search results page for his name…. because he’s Peter Parker.Disambiguation is a hard problem, and doing it well will be rewarded. I imagine the company(s) that will get it right will be the ones with social graph data.

    1. Tereza

      I can’t stop laughing.Like like like like like.Great one, Andrew.

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Ditto, Tereza :-)Hence my hesitation regards my brand becoming simply, ‘moi’ – there’s an amazing number of SEO-rich Carl Griffith’s out there – from boxers, to attorneys to bread makers, and all points inbetween! Hence I frequently use my middle name, Rahn – not out of pompousness (honest!), just endeavouring to get a better (more unique) tag/identity. Then there is a Carl Griffith on Twitter who seems to have a far more interesting life than me, in Singapore – I follow him on Twiiter and it’s odd seeing ‘me’ (not me) Twitter something from there ;-)So, egoboss, it is then – as per Fred’s advice in this thread I should however try and improve the association between me, CRG, and egoboss, though.I won’t even mention the egoboss who seems to be something of a ‘ladies man’ – I seem to have finally overtaken him in SEO results, thankfully – did cause some confusion in the early years, lol.Disambiguation – wow, yes, Andrew – that’s one heck of a topic – our startup, ensembli (personalized news), has been trying to crack that particular nut since going live last year! 🙂

      1. Tereza

        Carl you remind me of a great 70’s ad campaign:With a name like “Smucker’s”, it’s got to be good.Same goes for “Carl Rahn Griffith”. ;-)My mom used to say, “Terezko, no one remembers our name. But no one ever forgets it.”Which is why I didn’t shorten it to 5 letters when I had the chance.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Smucker’s, eh? Has a kind of ring to it, lol. Thank you – I’ll take that as a compliment, if I may, Tereza!? 😉

          1. Tereza

            Carl, you certainly may.Incidentally there was a brilliant Saturday Night Live parody, around 1975. I can’t find it on YouTube, but here is the description, for a chuckle:Jams – carries the Smucker’s slogan (“With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good!”) to absurd extremes, promoting jams that taste so good that the manufacturers dare to give them horrible and disturbing names. Most members of the first-season cast appear as spokesmen, each trying to outdo the other on the “best” jam in the following order:Jane Curtin – Fluckers: “It’s got to be good!”Chevy Chase – Nose Hair: “You can imagine how good it must be… mm-mm!”Dan Aykroyd – Death Camp: “Just look for the barbed wire on the label!”John Belushi – Dog Vomit & Monkey Pus: “This stuff has got to be terrific!”Chevy Chase – Painful Rectal Itch: “The taste? (kisses fingers)”Dan Aykroyd – Mangled Baby Ducks: “Great jam! Beautiful jam!”John Belushi – 10,000 Nuns and Orphans (Jane: “What’s so bad about that? John: They were all eaten by rats!”) “Oh so good!”Garrett Morris then brings in a jar that’s “So disgusting you can’t say it on television!”To me the message is, whatever name you have — Own It!

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Good stuff. Very much reminds me of this classic Monty Python sketch:http://www.youtube.com/watc…:-)

  51. jaboehmer

    Thanks Fred. Timely subject as i am giving a talk tonight for the Project Management Institute titled, “Managing Your Career Like a Business” and one of the key components is how you think of yourself as a brand. First i would suggest everyone read Tom Peters article from 1997 Fast Company called “The Brand Called You” It is still a classic. Some quick stats, i believe these come from Execunet, 83% of outside recruiters use search engines to research applicants and 43% eliminate candidates from consideration due to negative content found. So as part of an overall proactive career strategy, taking control, or at least responsibility, for your brand is critical. And I would suggest you start with something that is not often talked about and that’s introspection. Make some decisions about who you are, what you are good at, what you’re not so good at, and what you really want to do when you grow. And get some feedback on the first three from trusted colleagues, friends and family. Once you do that many of the other things discussed here will begin to fall into place.

  52. a.j. lawrence

    By proactively utilizing content and social media profiles, beyond seeing an improvement in search engine rankings what other type of results have people seen?One of our clients ended up doing a private equity deal with someone he hadn’t spoken to in 10 years, because this person saw a mutual friend’s facebook update showing our client becoming their friend. So he reached out to our client. Not the main point of our proactive reputation management, but a nice side benefit.

  53. Joshua Unseth

    Brand management is incredibly important. I’ve really enjoyed watching products like Knowem.com and searchEGO.com show up on the brand / reputation management landscape as ways to make sure your personal or business brands are kept safe.

  54. designcitation

    Hi Fred, read your blog every day ( or however much we’re lucky to get it ! : )I’m an expert in my field – but feel overwhelmed getting started on blogging.do I use google? wordpress? any recommendations?thanks

  55. daryn

    Absolutely. It’s not about over-sharing, or a loss of privacy, it’s simply about controlling your presence. The more prolific you get, the easier it is to gain that control, but the point is that you control 100% of what you’re sharing, and you can use that to your advantage to let people see what you want them to see.A lot of people are freaked out about all the kids on facebook, etc, posting embarrassing things. Honestly, I think most kids know what they are doing, and those photos are currency in their social circles. Yes, there’s always the question of judgement, but the sooner we as a society understand that some old “scandalous” photo is not a big deal, just part of life that everyone goes through, the better.Building my personal brand, and dominating search results with my message is one of the main reasons I started blogging and commenting on blogs years ago. Since then, I’ve become hooked on it as an outlet, and as a way to participate in discussions like this. I almost always use my real name or a variation of it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  56. c_vaughan

    Having been on the HR side of things, I’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter if the teens today know what they are doing or not. They have to use judgment and posting inappropriate photos and/or comments will be viewed negatively by a prospective employer.

  57. Chris Phenner

    Three tactical to-do’s in support of this:1. Buy your name via Google AdWords (for the tracking)2. Set your name up for Google Alerts (all spellings)3. View your Google results via a non-cookied browser (since Google delivers search results differently)And: I agree that thinking with the next generation in mind is key. My son’s birth announcement included (no joke) his web page, his FB account, his Twitter account, his email address and his Google Voice number. I frankly doubt these services will be in vogue as he comes-of-age, but I like the idea of reserving his ‘property’ and to give him his options 🙂

  58. hypermark

    Two comments. One is that there is nothing more powerful than being able to say “google me,” and knowing that it will tell a story that you WANT to tell. Two is that as someone once said to me, know what answer you want to be to which Google question (i.e.,queries), and do the online work to build that brand accordingly.If interested, here is a post that I wrote some time back on the topic of owning your online brand:Why I Blog: It’s about Brand, not Bread http://bit.ly/cMKkNP

  59. dm305

    great post and comments too! Always worth the time.I’ll add one opinion from the realm of the big picture: Privacy will return as a critical issue socially much more than it was becoming in 2002-03 and social pressure will shape the issue more than I believe anyone allows for here. Face book (and other social media firms) are media enterprises serving an audience ignored at their own peril. Even when that does happen, the best suggestions here are well worth the time and effort. Thanks again everyone!

  60. Chris Waldron

    We have a small startup in San Diego where we hire college students to work in our office in sales/service. Several weeks ago I was so frustrated by the lack on online branding with today’s college students I reached out to professors on campus and requested 30 min of their classes time. To my surprise several were open to the idea and excited to have me.Hopefully those students got something out of my 5 point talk on how to create an online brand and to stand out from their competition. I also subscribe to the idea that students need a blog/social presence. The time where you could get an internship/job based on a resume and cover letter is dead.

  61. peonsguide

    I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be Tiger Woods’ online brand manager right now…http://www.cnn.com/2010/TEC

  62. reactorr online branding

    Using seo would be a big part of reputation management to push less desirable pages/images to pages 3 or 4 when googling someone, but for social media activity one needs to be a little more careful about developing their personal brand.Do the land grab, get the social media accounts while available under your preferred username, and link them to pages you would prefer people see. Start a few blogs on topics of interest too. Create your personal and social network. Being proactive can build a buffer, because if you should show up later for something you don’t want, it would take weeks or months to push that a few pages back in the results.The link building process isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy or quick either to do either. And with the time it takes for a cycle that search engine info is updated, you might find yourself missing out on an opportunity without such a buffer already in place when you need it.Markreactorr – online branding, seo, internet marketinghttp://www.reactorr.com/blog/

  63. Tereza

    Uncle.My first Tumblog, here: http://tumblr.com/xv26ygs51. “What Mom Taught Me About Business”.Hope you like it.If you don’t, feel free to keep it to yourselves. 😉

    1. fredwilson

      i can’t comment on that post. what a fantastic story.adding disqus to tumblr is drop dead easy. just go to disqus.com and set upa comment system. get a “shortname”, then in tumblr, customize, appearance,you add the shortname and youv’e got disqus commentsfred

      1. Tereza

        hey thanks!disqus is now engaged at “mashupsmarketsandmotherhood”(not a very short name)

        1. fredwilson

          I love the name

      2. Tereza

        FYI the disqus/tumblr hookip it was indeed easy. I did it while making breakfast for the kids.

        1. fredwilson

          Mashup and motherhood incarnate

          1. Tereza

            On every level. It was oatmeal!

  64. Andrew Skotzko

    Hi Fred — love the message here, definitely going to take it to heart myself. As a young guy passionate about and working in the media/tech/entertainment space, do you (or other readers) know of any great MBA or grad programs in that space? Is it even necessary to get an MBA for this space?Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t think an MBA is necessary. It may even be detrimental

      1. Tereza

        Point to point classes are enough. The culture of the full-time could suffocate or distract you.If you’re a thoroughbred we need to be careful not to break your spirit. Just tame you around the edges and give you confidence.Specific classes plus communities/networks of entrepreneurs can do that.

  65. paramendra

    I am assuming all “MBA students from Duke, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, and NYU” already are on Facebook, Twitter and at least half have active blogs. Are you suggesting that is not the case?

  66. Tom Hennessy

    Please don’t tell people to “blog as resume” without also instructing them on how to blog. A poorly written blog reveals flaws and weaknesses, and is a job seeker’s career death sentence.

    1. fredwilson

      So will a bad resume.

  67. Jason Whitman

    Fred – so right. I had my .com domain but neglected to purchase the variants (.net, .org, etc. – they were available for years), and paid the price. It’s so affordable to be comprehensive about protecting your brand now – really should be a no-brainer.

  68. Rob @ ReputationDefender

    This is an excellent post and perfectly illustrates the importance of managing your online reputation. One of the problems people have with regard to reputation management is that they think about in a reactive sense. Rather than proactively preparing for problems, they try and react to situations as they occur. Unfortunately, this makes managing the problem that much more difficult.If you already have a strong online presence in place through social networking profiles, blogs, and news articles, then you have an automatic buffer against negative content, which will give you some breathing room to handle whatever crises may arise.Thanks again for the great post Fred. Oh, and smart thinking on registering domain names for your kids! If only all parents were so forward-thinking.

  69. enrolled agent study guide

    If you want to get the attention of your target audience, whether you’re in an executive job search or trying to build business, you have to position yourself right in front of them online.

  70. enrolled agent exam

    Am I the only one who thinks it strange that someone would WANT their children’s names to show up in an internet search? :)Seriously, though, I think internet branding at a young age is a great idea. My kids both have unusual names– you know, the kind that will never be found on the personalized cups in Toys R Us– so I think it might behoove them to have something each of them could call “mine.”

  71. Maxiosearch

    Great article!I think David is totally true with his statement. You are the one ruling what is have to be said about you and that will only happen if you are there all the time, building your brand, caring about your followers/friends/fans and readers.

  72. John Stack

    Branding with actual achievements….quite difficult to do I think. Most bloggers state that the first thing you don’t do is blog about yourself. I have to agree. Fred, you’re in the 99% percentile who actually can without sounding full of yourself – primarily because your accomplisments are so well documented and easy to find.My interactions are less visible and in some cases, confidential. I can write about the space and prefer not to be incendiary or controversial. In the end, I think that puts me in the other percentile… crap.

  73. Tereza

    Hey, thanks, Michael. I really appreciate it.