Listening to: A “best of” New Order
Drinking: microwaved coffee with non-fat milk that’s gone cold
Wearing: Cords and a V-neck sweater
When I started blogging in 2002, I used to write what I was listening to, what I was drinking and what I was wearing. I did that religiously and was a way that people identified me on my personals blog (when I blogged there). I had a way of saying things and I had such a persona that people thought I was over the top, but, when they actually met me they discovered that I was pretty mild mannered and ambiguously nervous. When I started this whole life online it was sometime around 1997. I had enough income to get my own dial-up and phone line. I had enough time on my hands to reach out to the world. The best way was becoming part of a listserv or BBS. Sometimes there were people out there who knew “webmastering” (HTML) and would create their own sites about themselves. Everyone in LA had their own website and domain. I didn’t. I think that saved me.
But I did have a myriad of profiles (and still can’t recall if they are disabled). Is it worth it to me to track down these profiles and sites and hang up my hat on each one? Usernames and passwords have all be forgotten on my end, but what about the server end? Have I left a good reputation online? What are we going to get when we type in the key words “Tess” and, or “McCarthy”?
I periodically do a keyword search on my name on various sites. I typed in my name. I was pleased to find out that my name associated with my Twitter handle, @Archbrarian, is still stacked on the top. But it seems other permutations of Tesses and McCarthys have emerged and I am either a: cheerleader, real estate broker, proud wife, administrative assistant or movie actress (who has one film credit).
The page results on bing.com were enough for me to sort things out. So I did an evaluation of how I’d like to pop up on search + I asked myself 10 questions:
1. What site(s) are you most closely affiliated with? (Are you and Facebook attached at the hip? Or are you like me: do you like being associated with the Twitterverse?)
2. Are you prepared to read some untrue things about you? (I have not been faced with this. But think of a remedy if this is you).
3. If partnered, does your old “singles” profile come up? (Shame on you, I thought you deleted/hibernated that profile!)
4. How searchable do you want to be? (Sometimes I feel people should never be able to find me. But, if I go to an interview or a networking event, I believe, they get to know more about my accomplishments–that I don’t speak of too much in person–online! Your online persona is indirect selling).
5. What sorts of ways are you willing to promote yourself? (If you are a real estate agent and the person you are selling is you, you have be willing to invest in some online advertising).
6. What aggregators (like about.me.com) or sites which enable you to share your multiple profiles have you looked into? (You can start with Gravatar if you want to be a multiple blogger like me).
7. Do you have a password management system in place? It doesn’t have to be Apple’s little key chain or Last Pass. It can be as simple as keeping all sites, usernames and passwords together on a spreadsheet or logged in a book or Post-It.
8. Should this ever happen, but if you were to pass on, does your next of kin, loved one or trusted fellow have access to all these accounts to delete, disable or to create a memorial page for you? You could be the next Perez Hilton one day and then flop over and die. Who will pick up the pieces on the red carpet for you?
9. Profile pics: Your profile pictures and how you want to manage them out there in the wild are crucial to your online persona. Get your friend(s) and your mother-in-law to de-tag all those unflattering pics of you on Facebook. While at events, stop the photographer and say, “Are you going to tag me on Facebook? I opt out!” Make sure that if you do not want your face to be associated with activities online use a picture that can’t be mapped to facial features. Especially if you have stalkers. If you want people in your inner circles to get a hold of you, think of one picture they’d recognize so that you don’t have complete strangers befriending you. For instance, I use pictures of my dog. People who know me IRL (in real life) know what my dog looks like. If I tell an acquaintance at the coffee shop I go to, “Hey! Look me up on Facebook. I’m the one with the Australian Shepherd drooling” they can find you. Your total stranger wouldn’t befriend a drooling dog, but the guy you have coffee with every other day may befriend you online because he knows your dog isn’t much of a drooler.
10. Stay on top of everything. If you have friends, colleagues or strangers write about you, ask them permission to link their content about you on to your site in a text box like, “Stuff They’re Saying About Me.” If you are on YouTube tweak your content by tagging them in a uniform format (i.e. always put your username as a tag in all of the content). If you blog, keep blogging. If you use Pinterest, contribute pins once a week to stay in the game. You want to be “that” Tess McCarthy. Not that other Tess McCarthy.