For years I have been preaching the necessity of registering your name with Google Alerts to further emphasize the importance of purposefully developing a positive web presence which reflects how you want the world to see you. For those who don’t know, by using Google Alerts you can monitor the web for content as it's published. All you need to do is register an alert and you will be notified when content is published with those keywords. Simple and effective for business, education, and beyond.
During this time however, I have never come across an “Alert” which would anyone would mistake for being a misrepresentation of me. Most of the time the Alerts are notifying me of another Brian Hamm who is not in similar employment field or has done no harm and therefore of no interest to me.
Until January 1, 2018 when I received a Google Alert for “Brian Hamm” with the Headline, “Memphis man caught selling school laptops for $20 each, according to police.” As you can imagine my first thought was, Fox News really isn’t reliable or news, but I did find this alert a bit too close for comfort. Someone could easily mistake Memphis Brian Hamm for me if there was no other web content which they could check up on. But perhaps this would just be a once off. Unfortunately for myself and Memphis Brian Hamm, it wasn’t.
In April 2018 it seems that my namesake was arrested again for the resale of school owned technology. Memphis Brian Hamm is said to be a 38 year old American Man who could easily be mistaken for being me, 36 year-old Canadian Brian Hamm who works in education as a Technology Director. Now as an international educator who will probably change locations at some time, it is important that when a potential recruiter or school administrator searches me on Google, they come across a web presence which reinforces their school values which is probably aligned with felony burglary.
So what can be done? Well as G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is Half the Battle” and while the other half may have involved guns for G.I. Joe, for us who want to rebalance or control our web presence, it involves creating and posting content. Content which aligns with how you want the digital world to reflect who you are.
The reality is, when potential recruiters, colleagues, friends, partners, etc want to find out about who you are, they will go online first. More often than not, when I work with educators and students they have a digital presence which was not developed with intention and does not align with how they want the world to see them. The other half is to decide how you want to be seen by the world and then start creating content to reinforce that image.
How many of us take a moment to be conscious about how we want to be seen and actually summarize that into a statement, a 6-word memoir, or a few keywords?. Try doing so, then post content which reflects that.
For example, my drivers for life and how I want to be seen are; leading and loving with integrity. It shouldn't be a struggle to find content which reflects that online.
Leading: I believe in relational leadership as opposed to a managerial approach and that by serving others I can best play a small part in helping us all create more inspirational, student owned learning experiences.
Loving: I believe that if we anchor our thoughts, actions, and exchanges in love, we can achieve happiness ,fulfillment and more meaningful relationships. I am fully aware that when people meet me, or those who know me, would not think of me as an overly affectionate loving person but that is not what I am or intent to be. For me, acting from a mindset with “love” means investing whole-heartily in the things that matter the most to me. My family, my communities, my colleagues, etc. My friend Jeff Heil contrasts platitudes vs beliefs, and states that beliefs are the things we will work tirelessly and relentlessly to realize. Platitude are things we say to make ourselves feel better. For the things I “love”, I believe in, I work tirelessly for from mindset of understanding and devotion.
Integrity: I believe that if we are genuine, fair, honest, and morally conscious in our lives and relationships that this can serve as a foundation for transformational relationships. Without integrity, trust and reliability, the foundations for real relationships is impossible to attain.
We are born into the physical world with a variety of traits, histories, genes etc which we have no control over. As my friend David Jakes says, "when we create ourselves online, we are literally building ourselves into existence." How provocative is that? More often than not our digital selves are created with little intension and do not reflect the real us or how we want to be portrayed. Think of yourself as a digital brand of you and be as bold as you like.