Five steps to discover how you are perceived

Starting to build a personal brand requires some reflection on the self - thinking about and researching how people perceive you right now.

Here’s a quick list of things to try:

1) Google yourself. If you don’t appear on the front page (we’ll have to fix that), add another identifying term such as your school or employer until you find yourself. What does the Google results snippet say? Is that how you want to be seen?

2) Visit your Twitter and Facebook pages. Log out, so you can see what you’ll look like to someone who doesn’t know you. Is the overall impression how you’d want to be viewed? Is it professional?

3) Print off the front page of your blog, your clippings.me page or your other ‘home’ online. Show it to five people - friends, family, colleagues, strangers, whoever. Using just that sheet of paper (not the online version), ask them for three words that sum up what they can see. Note down their responses.

4) Visit the url of your name (try www.firstname-surname.com or www.firstnamesurname.com). What’s there? Nothing? Snap it up now using a domain registrar like GoDaddy. If there is something there, will it damage your credibility if it’s the first thing people see?

5) Check the groups that you’re a member of on LinkedIn. By default, anybody can see these - are they the groups that reflect what you’re interested in? Or are they frat houses, school groups or other groups that raise questions about the impartiality of your writing?

How were the results? Were you proud? Or was your online footprint not quite as comprehensive as you wanted?