Building a digital identity with a common name

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How unique is your name?

When you enter your name in a search on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, do you find a few results, dozens, or hundreds? I’m pretty lucky to be a Jay Krall, there are just a few of us. (Strictly speaking, I’m a Jason, but growing up there were 3 or 4 Jasons in every class.)

When it comes to creating a highly visible personal brand on the social Web, having a common name can be a curse. A former colleague of mine, Steve Schmidt, recently explored this challenge in a graduate project at Quinnipiac University, He interviewed four other Steve Schmidts in the metropolitan New York area about the implications of having such a common name in an increasingly digital world.

“I am immersed in a sea of Steves,” says, well, Steve. “If it was just me, I think it would be easier to establish myself.”

If an old colleague wants to reconnect with you, how many LinkedIn profiles will they sift through before giving up? Probably not hundreds. And the more common your name, the more competition you’ll have for real estate on the first page of Google search results when your name is queried. Including a middle initial doesn’t help much if people aren’t including it in their search terms.

PR pros can struggle with this issue too when searching social sites for journalists and influencers with whom they want to connect. Cision’s media database aids in this hunt with thousands of verified usernames for journalists, especially from Twitter, included in our profiles.

What do you think? Is your name an asset or a challenge for your personal brand online? The comments are yours.





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