Who Are You Online?

You’re probably pretty familiar with the real world. That’s the place you drive around in, talk to children in, hug your significant other in, go to school in, and all that kind of thing. But you have a doppelganger also, a version of yourself that is chillin here and there, getting viewed, being read, critiqued, listened to and, yes, sometimes ignored.

You have a digital identity.

Why not Google yourself and get re-acquainted with the digital version of yourself, your startup, or your app? You’ll find some surprising stuff. People may be celebrating your digital identity or disrespecting it. People may be impersonating it, using your name, scraping your site for pictures, emails, addresses. Don’t freak out. You can’t control the online use of your identity, but you can have a go at leveraging it.

Here’s why you should.

Blogging is the new resume, as the saying goes (first popularized on The Next Web) and that it means is that if you’re a student, people are going to check your blog before they check your resume. I can’t remember the last time anybody handed me a resume on paper. If I am going to meet someone for the first time, I check their Twitter feed, and often their LinkedIn account. If I want to see their baby pictures or cat pictures, I check their Facebook feed. If I want to see what they’re eating, I check their Instagram.

If you have a startup, people are going to check it first from the vantage point of your landing page, then move on to your Twitter feed. They might search your GitHub profile, or check you out on reddit. If you Google somebody (or, let’s be fair, if you Bing them instead) you will find a record of their digital identity running on for pages. If you have a unique name, like my wife Tabby Biddle, you will have pages of Google all to yourself. (I often say I married her for her Google dominance.) If you have a less unique name, like Lee Schneider, you’ll find lots of people, and images that aren’t you. Think of somebody who doesn’t know you well, say a prospective user, a future customer, an employer or partner. What will they find?

Lessons learned.

Prospective employers, potential investors, journalists looking for stories or to fact-check you, or potential business or life partners – they are all checking you out online. You can’t control what they see, but you can put some good stuff out there for them to discover.

Be the master of your (media) domain.

Try blogging, posting videos to YouTube or Vimeo, Instagram and Twitter. Tumblr works too, if you’re in a creative community and want the attention of art directors. reddit is good for coders, startuppers and entrepreneurs. LinkedIn works if you’re wanting to be more visible in the business community. Do you want to have a look at your Facebook feed and take off the pictures of you wandering around drunk in the wee hours? Only if you want to get a job. Or get into a fancy school. Facebook will turn up on online searches, and prospective employers check it out. So will prospective users of your app.

What will they see when they go to your profile? Or the profile of anybody on your team?