Online Executive Personal Branding: Are You Digitally Distinct?

by Meg Guiseppi on December 8, 2009

I am digitally distinct! Visit

Do you know how strong your web presence is? If you’ve never Googled “your name”, or haven’t done it in more than a month or so, give it a try.

How many search results are associated with your name on the first page of results? What kind of content is on those web pages associated with you?

As a top level executive, you need a stellar online identity that’s aligned with your real-world personal brand.

If you’re a candidate being considered for a job, you can bet that decision makers for that organization have Googled your name to find out more about you.

If you aren’t visible online, you aren’t being found by recruiters and hiring decision makers who routinely search online to source and assess top talent. But your competition, who has been working on building their online identity, is being found.

Conversely, if employers and recruiters find digital dirt about you, you’ll probably be passed over. The sooner you address any negative information about you floating around out there, the sooner you can work on building up positive results and pushing the bad ones further down the list until they become ineffectual.

Doesn’t it make sense to find out what others are finding out about you online?

William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, Reach Personal Branding founders, broke out 5 possible online profiles in their book Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand:

Digitally disguised

Your vanity search does not match any web pages. There is absolutely nothing about you on the Web – you have no online identity. You’re hidden from those who may be looking for you.

Digitally dissed

There is little on the Web about you, and what is there is either negative or inconsistent with how you want to be known – your personal brand.

Digitally disastrous

You have plenty of search results, but they have little relevance to what you want to express about yourself. Results for others with the same name as you may be in the mix, too.

Digitally dabbling

Even though there aren’t many results for you, the information about you is relevant and on-brand – nothing negative. From here, you can easily move to the next level.

Digitally distinct

There are lots of results about you that reinforce your brand – the right message about you is out there. This is digital nirvana – you’re among or approaching the superstars in the world of online identity. But your work isn’t done. Google results can (and do) change overnight. You need to keep an eye on your online identity and keep building up the good stuff. There’s always room for improvement.

Reach Branding offers a nifty free tool, the Online Identity Calculator, to assess the strength of your online presence.

When you take the quiz, you’ll be asked to type “your name” in a Google search and note the total number of search results, how many are NOT about you, and how many accurate, on-brand results ARE about you in the first 3 pages.

Among the questions provided, you’re asked which statement best describes the career level for which you are aiming:

  • University/College Student or Recent Graduate
  • Entry-level (1-5 years’ experience) or Individual Contributor
  • Manager with 5-10 years’ experience, Director, Consultant or Small Business Owner
  • VP, Highly-regarded Consultant or Acknowledged Thought Leader
  • C-level Executive, Partner, Board Member, Celebrity, Renowned Consultant or Expert

When you submit your answers, your digital ranking compared to the expected number of accurate results for the career level you chose is revealed – digitally disastrous, digitally distinct, or somewhere in between.

The quiz takes about 5 minutes to complete. The results can be eye-opening and impel you to get busy. And if you “pass” the quiz, you’ll be given the code for the “I’m digitally distinct” badge shown above to place on your website or blog.

Need some help building your online brand identity and positioning your unique value proposition? Check out my compilation of blog posts, Best of Online Brand Identity and Social Media, over at my Executive Resume Branding blog.

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