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First impressions and building your brand

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You only get one chance tomake a first impression.” Like it or not, many times an impressiontakes place even before you speak. The same holds true on the Internet— people become aware of personal brands in a variety of options. Itcould be a Google search for your name, a stalking on Facebook, or yourname could appear in a Tweet or a blog post. <br /><p></p>

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Like it or not, many times an impression takes place even before you speak. The same holds true on the Internet — people become aware of personal brands in a variety of options. It could be a Google search for your name, a stalking on Facebook, or your name could appear in a Tweet or a blog post.

So what does Google say about you? Does it paint the right portrait of your brand? Maybe your name doesn’t even appear because you have a common name like John Smith. Either way, it’s time to take control of your own first impressions by managing your online identity. Here are a few ways to do just that:

1 Reserve your brand name online, including yourname.com at GoDaddy.com, your Twitter handle (twitter.com/yourname), your Facebook custom URL (facebook.com/yourname) and your LinkedIn custom URL (linkedin.com/in/your
name).

2 Become a content producer instead of just a consumer. Aside from reading about emerging trends, skimming your favorite blogs and watching “Family Guy” on Hulu.com, you should create content, whether it’s a blog or videos on YouTube.

3 Gain media attention from well-known outlets and blogs, and the published articles will appear high in search results for your name.

4 Write guest blog posts or bylines for traditional sites, leaving your professional bio at the bottom of each article. These will not only rank high in Google, but the links in your bio will boost the authority of your other sites.

—Dan Schawbel
is the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y and author of “Me 2.0.” Follow him on Twitter @DanSchawbel.

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