What’s In a Name? How to Maximize the Power of Your Name, Online

The young Mary Fletcher Jones

Not many 5-year-olds have to be concerned about their personal brand, but I did.

I was appearing in a professional theater production, my first. I was the first child in my class to get a regular paycheck.

It was time to print the programs, and the stage manager and cast members had a discussion with me about my stage name.  It could be my real name, they told me, or a made-up one, but the important thing was to always use the same name in plays in which I would appear, so people would recognize me, and for reviews.

We talked about the options — can you imagine having this discussion with a little child? But it really happened — and we all agreed that “Mary Fletcher Jones” had a nice ring to it; much better than “Mary Jones” which was far too generic. So that became my stage name, and the name I used on my school work, and later my resumes, and as my professional name.

My name even became an important issue when I married.  I married twice, and both husbands were dismayed to learn that I had no plans to change my name to theirs.  With a modest career as a writer, as well as many stage productions to my credit, I was not about to change my name to someone else’s.  Even in those pre-online days, I understood that changing my name would impact my career.  Besides, my name is part of me!  I protested.  I even made up a little rhyme:  My name is Mary Fletcher Jones.  It’s part of me.  Just like my bones.

Both men, I recall, argued that it was just too confusing for a married couple to have two different last names, so I gamely offered both husbands to take my last name, but they did not take me up on my offer 🙂

Well, I hope these two little stories bring home the point that names are important.  Yet, even today I encounter communicators who have not fully embraced the power of their own name

Just recently, I was doing a Twitter search on some public relations speakers, and I was surprised to discover that for a few of them, there were no search results for their name.

Just as you select a business name, a name you are “doing business as,” you also have to select a professional name, which you will use consistently.  To build your professional reputation, particularly online, you must put your name online to build search results.

Your “personal brand” name should sound good.  Names that sound well when spoken are easy to remember.  You may know that names that are comprised of a variety of syllables are considered to be more euphonious.  So John Ray Smith is not as euphonious as John Carter Smith.  If you had to pick between John Smith and John Carter Smith, you’d probably do well to pick the latter.

Your “personal brand” name should be the name you are known as by others, if you have an established reputation.  If people know you as Bill Jones, don’t start calling yourself William F. Jones on your online sites.  Stick with how you are called, or how you believe people will search for your name online.

If possible, your “personal brand” name should not be too long, or too hard to spell.  Remember, people are searching for you by your name.  Also, it’s hard to pick a username if you have a really long name.  Do you really need a hyphenated name?

But, hey, some of us are endowed with unusual names.   The most critical thing is to make the most of what you have, and to use it with consistency online.

How to Own Your Name Online

At a minimum, create these online accounts in your professional name:

1. A website with your name as the URL http://www.yourname.com

2. A LinkedIn profile, with your name URL like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/your name (Remember, LinkedIn profiles are for real people, not companies, and you may only have one LinkedIn profile.  Create a company profile for your business.)

3. A YouTube Channel, with your name URL like this http://www.youtube.com/user/yourname.  You should also have one for your company. If you upload any videos in which you appear, be sure to tag your videos with your professional name (contained within quotation marks).

4. A Facebook Profile, with your name URL like this http://www.facebook.com/yourname or your.name (Remember, profiles are only for real people, not companies, and each person may only have one profile.  Create a Facebook Page for your business.)

5. A Twitter Profile, with your real name listed as the user (e.g., Mary Fletcher Jones) and as close an approximation to your real name for the username as possible (e.g., MaryFletchJones).  Be sure you also have a Twitter profile with the name of your business.  You can link these profiles together, so people will find you on either one.

6. A Flickr account (for which you will need a Yahoo account), with your name as the account name.  Do not forget to title and tag your photos of yourself with your professional name, contained in quotation marks, for searchability.   And yes, I have a Flickr account for my business, as well.

7. Blog comments.  Use your real “professional” name, not an anonymous moniker; not a cute nickname.  Blog comments are searchable.

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on May 27, 2011, in Marketing Tips, Social Media Tips, Web Site Design and SEO Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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