It used to be that people took your word for it when you told them who you were and what you did.  Legitimacy was already inferred…unless you were a used car salesman.  But really, who would admit to being one of those?  Hey, I’m just setting the bar right now for this blog and sure, it’s a little low, but it’s set.  Nowadays when you meet someone and you strike their interest or raise their suspicion, they enter you into a search engine, usually on their phone, to see if their interest or suspicions were well-founded.  It’s clever in an annoying little way, isn’t it?

Maybe you’re introducing yourself as the Midwest SEO King of All Things Social Media.  Pretty good keywords, huh?  And it sounds impressive…until somebody enters that into Google and finds out you’re also a complete and total tool.  Or maybe you’re an author and somebody casually happens to find out that you’ve written and published a couple of books.  Naturally, they’re going to see if you’re legitimate.

So what could potentially come up during a search?  There will more than likely be some hits from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a publisher’s website, which is a surefire way for them to see if you really are published and how available your work is.  If you’re really lucky, there will even be some reviews from sites that pop up, so then they’ll have an idea of how your work is being received.  But that’s all really subjective.  What you want others to see is if you have a website and how you’re making use of that website and blog.

Looking at someone’s website can send a pretty strong image of what that person is like.  Are they stiff and formal?  Or formally stiff?  Do they give the impression that they think they’re smarter than everybody else?  Unwilling to commit to anything, including friendships?  Humble?  Caring?  A website will give you a taste of that.  And if they’ve blogged, the search engines will show you that, too.  What sorts of things have they blogged about?  Does what means something to them mean anything to you?  How they deal with knowing people will read what they have to say gives you a pretty clear indication of how they’ll handle talking to you.

How about social media?  Are they on Twitter?  Are they tweeting about things that interest them or are they passing along ads?  How about MySpace?  And Facebook?  All of these things begin to build a profile of the person you’re looking at.  It’s probably safe to say that you don’t want to be one of those deep-Googlers and, by that, I mean where you go into the fourth and fifth pages of the search results.  That might be kinda misconstrued as the start of cyberstalking.  Keep it simple.  Keep it relevant.

I remember when I started writing reviews for a website a decade or so ago and how excited I was to see my name pop up in search engine results.  It was like buying Blu-Rays today…that same feeling…only cheaper.  I don’t mind being found online these days either.  Many people who have done casual checks have actually turned into good friends and folks who have become supporters of my work.

And I love those “Oh, my God.  You’re real!” emails that I receive when they find out I’m exactly who I say I am.  Oh, and that I’m not a tool.

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