A primary benefit of being active online (by having a website with a biographical sketch and having articles relevant to your practice published online, for example) is that potential clients have an opportunity to learn something about you before meeting you. Whether your name surfaces by referral or by an internet search, it’s a safe bet that almost every potential client will search on your name before contacting you.
Do you know what these potential clients will find? I recently read an advice column in which the writer was struggling with how to tell her doctor that his son, who shared the doctor’s name (plus a “junior”), had posted “obscene” photographs on Facebook and that patients were finding those images and associating them with the doctor. I imagine that the doctor and his son had a rather frank conversation after that revelation, but the questions go a step further: how long had the doctor’s reputation been damaged by his son’s online antics? And more importantly, how could he recover his professional reputation online?
Your task today: perform an internet search on yourself. Start with Google, as it’s the most popular search engine, but be sure to check Yahoo!, Ask.com, Excite.com, MSN, and so on. What do you find?
You may disover that your profile on a social media platform is high on the result list. If so, one of the quickest ways to ramp up your online presence is to be sure that your profile is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. If it’s difficult to find yourself online, getting a LinkedIn profile is a quick and easy way to make sure that those who search for you will be able to find something useful. And if you find results that conflict with your professional persona, consider how you might address them.