We all do it.
The pre-date Facebook scan, the drink-prep Twitter check, the face-saving Google image search. Conducting our own internet dating due diligence has become a natural and smart aspect of the dating experience. In fact, eHarmony’s recent Relationship Study found that 69% of Aussies admit to performing background checks on their dates (and that’s only the ones who admit to it).
To get to the bottom of this, I sat down with Social Check’s founder and CEO, David Griffiths, an expert in online presence and digital personal branding. According to Dave;
“It wasn’t that long ago that first impressions in the dating scene meant a stolen glance across a bar, bumping into each other in a nightclub, the first time you met a co-worker, or locking eyes with a stranger on the other side of a crowded room. Today, that first impression is more likely to occur online. It typically begins with the first look at someone’s online dating profile and then is followed up by ‘googling’ that person’s name.
“Every day now, more than 1 billion name searches are conducted on Google. With more than 19.3 million Australian accounts across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, there is a wealth of information out there to be searched. Never before have we been able to find out so much about someone before we even say a single word to them and all the time we are making judgments about them and their suitability to be our partner.”
Manage your online brand
These days, the internet is simply an extension of our daily lives. We use it to progress our careers, to do our banking, to communicate with loved ones and to shop up a storm. When it comes to our personal brand, our online persona is no longer a separate entity but merely an extension of our physical presence.
According to eHarmony research, we are already doing a pretty good job of managing our online personal brands. 85% of Aussies actively manage their digital profiles by making their online accounts private (56%), setting their profiles to unsearchable or limited (39%) and only posting or tagging themselves in photos they believe they look good in (33%).
Interestingly, women are more likely than men to conduct pre-date online checks and Generation Y are more likely than Generation X or Baby Boomers. The message here? Young guys look out, your dates are taking a close look at your online life!
So, how can you make sure your digital profile is working FOR you?
David shares his top 10 tips to help you put your best digital foot forward in your dating life:
- Understand what is out there– Start by googling your name and some variations such as your name plus your place of work. What do you see? Is there a lot or nothing at all? Would you be happy for your future mother in-law to see everything?
- What does it say about me?– Ask yourself: What would someone think if they had to make a judgement about me based solely on my google results? We call this your “online personal brand” and whether you like it or not, you have one right now. Do I come across as an attractive life partner? Do I appear positive? Thoughtful? Caring? Fun? Honest? Successful? Do the things in my life that I am most passionate about come through?
- What would I like my online brand to be? – The next step is to decide what you really want your online brand to be. Are you very career focused? Are you passionate about travel? Is music your life? Your online presence should reflect the things that are most important to you in your life. You can demonstrate this through sharing photos and posts in your social media accounts, through being a member of relevant online groups, through starting a blog or a website.
- Remove any “digital dirt”– Lots of us have posted things online at some stage of our lives that we might wince about later. It might have been a drunken photo at a party, a late night tweet, a comment we made at a time we had different beliefs. Now is the time to clean these things up. You should also be careful about things like spelling, swearing, your tone (e.g. is it particularly negative?), and expressing controversial views. People viewing these things online will make snap judgements about you, whether it is fair or not.
- Don’t be “the invisible man/woman”– Part of the reason people are searching for you is to be reassured that you really are everything you claim to be. So if someone can’t find anything about you online, it is going to raise some questions and they may begin to wonder what you are hiding. It is important to have an online presence. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, are all great options to quickly and easily build an online presence.
- Stand out from the crowd– There’s no denying it, dating is a competitive sport. When someone googles you, they will be asking questions like: Does the person have a good job? Are they educated? Do other people have good things to say about them? LinkedIn can be a great tool here to showcase your career and education achievements.
- Be authentic– Everyone wants to be with someone who is authentic, genuine, and trustworthy. So make sure that what someone sees when they google you is consistent with your dating profile. This goes for things like education, profession, profile photos, interests…all these things can be checked online so easily now.
- Check your privacy settings– Everyone has the right to a private life, you don’t have to have everything on display. So make sure all your social media accounts have the right privacy settings.
- A picture says a thousand words – It’s so easy now to google images that there is no point using very old photos or heavily photo-shopped ones in your profile. Look at the photos that are online of you at the moment and ask what these say about you. Do they suggest someone who has a lust for life? Various interests and passions? Someone who is happy and fun to be around? Using sites like Instagram and Flickr can be a great way to get these sorts of photos out online.
- Devote some time and effort– Building a strong online personal brand does require some consistency and effort. Make sure you are adding new content, keeping things up to date, adding fresh photos. Believe us, this small investment will pay big dividends.
Take it from Dave, it pays to invest some time and energy in your online brand. Remember, your eHarmony profile is just the starting point, the first place a potential date will ‘see’ you. This will inevitably lead to a Google search and a full review of your social media accounts so step up, take accountability and be mindful in your posts. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun.