As part of our commitment to bringing you information and opinions about entrepreneurship, this guest post features John Follis, of Follis Advertising LLC. John’s Madison Ave background includes co-founding an award-winning ad agency. He’s written for ADWEEK and Ad Age and currently hosts a syndicated podcast: The Marketing Show. He’s also has been a speaker at The Yale Entrepreneur Institute, The World Business Academy, and Chicago’s Social Media ’07. His latest website is: http://gcredscore.com. You can read his full profile on Wikipedia.
The Internet is not only the world’s most popular destination, it’s also the world’s most open community. Virtually anyone, anywhere, can say anything, any time with an online connection.
In less than a decade the web has evolved from a passive environment to a highly active one. Through words, pictures, and easily created audio and video, anyone and everyone between 8 and 80 is sharing their thoughts and passions, or promoting their products and services. Fueling the surge of entrepreneurship, this evolving web is turning us into a nation of marketers; reinventing ourselves, hustling our products and causes, and building our personal brands. As a result, it is also expanding our cultural vocabulary.
G-cred: n. 1) Google credibility. 2) What someone sees when they Google your name, business, product, organization or whatever. It’s an increasingly important measure of legitimacy and how seriously someone will take you.
The force that has lead the web revolution is Google. For two-thirds of US web searchers Google is the portal through which we pass. As Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? tells us: “Once upon a time, all roads led to Rome. Today, all roads lead from Google.” He further explains:
“The goal today is to be Google’s friend…(and) the way to befriend and to exploit Google is to be searchable. Customers now expect any information in the world to be available with one click. So every restaurant should have its menu, specials, hours, address and more online. The same can be said of you as an individual. You need a search presence.” Even the old-schoolers are realizing that, regardless of the type of business, it helps having a good online presence. Justified, or not, web visibility equals credibility. Now, any individual with something to say is realizing the value of that.
The idea that even individuals can benefit from online visibility is not new. In this May ‘07 ADWEEK piece: “Do we have G-cred?” I talk about it:
“As Google and the web continue to mature, online visibility will equate to credibility on every level. It does now through blogs and a myriad of social media sites that have become a respected, easily accessible, and exponentially expanding source of cred. In short, ‘word-of-mouth on steroids.’ What’s important to realize in this Web 2.0 world is that G-cred doesn’t just apply to every business, product, and organization. It also applies to every professional. And, that’s not a new thought. Respected marketing gurus like Tom Peters and Seth Godin have preached the value of building one’s “personal brand” for years. Godin’s Purple Cow champions the value of standing out and “being remarkable.”
Similarly, Peters’ The Brand You explains how career survival is not about blending in, but rather, standing out:
“Regardless of age, position, or the business we happen to be in, we need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
If that was true when Peters wrote it back in 1997, just imagine how true it is today. And that means visibility online.”
For those who value G-cred the question isn’t, “Will I come up on Google?” it’s, “How much will I come up on Google?” To build a strong presence on Google you’ve got two options: 1) Create good online content, or, 2) Rely on others to do it. I recommend the first.
Though it’s true that some of the best G-cred you’ll get is from outside sources, you can’t rely on it. So, how does one create and post good content? First, let’s define “good content.” “Good content” is information, in any uploadable media form, that helps communicate whatever it is that you want to communicate. The better it does that, the better G-cred you’ll have. So it’s not only about quantity, it’s also about quality. Let’s put that into the context of a person in the job market. Because in this job market savvy recruiters and HR execs aren’t just relying on standard resumes. If the job is of any significance, they’re also checking out your G-cred.
Obviously, you need to have a great resume and post it everywhere. But, you can’t stop there. You must continue to post anything that, in any way, documents your qualifications and makes you look good … any press, any involvement in relevant organizations, attractive photos, etc. If you don’t have that stuff, you must start creating it.
The value of a professional quality portrait photo cannot be over emphasized. So, if you don’t have one, get one and use it wherever a profile pic is required. Join relevant online groups and networks. If you can write, write relevant articles that help showcase your expertise. There are plenty of free article sites that will accept what you submit. Be sure to use plenty of the key words and phrases that you want to be identified with. Start interacting with blogs from leaders in your industry and post intelligent comments. Or, create a blog or website of your own. It’s easier than ever. So is creating and posting video. If you’re a speaker, or you see the value in becoming one, get someone to shoot a talk you’re giving. Or, simply use the internal video cam in your computer to shoot some short clips of yourself that somehow reinforced your expertise. Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Just be sure you understand and follow the proper etiquette.
Though these ideas are framed around a job seeker, the majority can translate to almost any product, service, organization, cause, or person wanting G-cred.
The “But, there are 87 other people with my same name” issue
Actually, there are probably more like 273 people with your same name. Those other 186 just haven’t gotten on Facebook yet. My point is that regardless of your name, there are a bunch of others who share it. All the more reason to start improving your G-cred, asap. No one wants to have to worry about being confused with the porn star who shares your name.
If you’re an expert on a topic of interest to entrepreneurs in the Northeastern US, and are interested in contributing a guest post, we invite you to contact us