A couple years ago, I applied for a working visa for the US. I have worked a total of nine years in ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, CA, and every year the visa process was pretty smooth. Until three years ago.
It was a hot spring day in Santiago de Chile. I shaved, put on a nice shirt and cologne (almost like I was going on a date), and I went to the US Embassy very confident that my good behavior would open the doors for me one more time. I did my interview, and at the end of it, when I used to get my visa with a big smile, I got a green form instead. The form said that my case needed further investigation, and the officer gave me the old “please don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
I had my trip planned, a job orientation, a lovely girlfriend (at the time) waiting for me, but I was stuck in Chile. On top of that I also had the uncertainty of what was going on. The time went by very slowly, and a month after that, I got the approval and I was good to go.
Two months after and through a friend, I discovered that my visa application went under investigation. The reason? Because my name came up very similar to someone who did something very bad, so they had to make sure that I was’t that angel.
So thinking about what a potential employer, or a nice lady that I just met could do, I decided to Google myself (an exercise that I have done before) but never paid to much attention to. I wasn’t very impressed with what I found. I always thought that online privacy was the most important thing, so I liked the idea of staying invisible, off the radar. But this time, my strategy wasn’t helping. The results were neither terrible nor great. The first person to pop-up was the General Manager of Home Depot in Mexico. Not bad, but not me. And the second guy was a criminal from Phoenix. Well that was definitely bad.
As many of you might know, Google ranks the results by the number of visits, so if there is a criminal on the run with your same name, and people are constantly clicking on his mugshot, he probably will show up before you on the search.
That made me think, is privacy important? And the answer is yes, but I think reputation is even more important. So, a couple of days ago, I decided to declare war, a peaceful one though. A war to the mugshot guy, to the Home Depot guy, and to all information that does not belong to me and is floating around the internet under my name. Dam it!
How am I going to win? By organizing my social media and flood the internet with positive info to literally drown the mugshot guy.
Think about the internet as a big free billboard, where your name, your brand is being attach to pictures or stories of other people. It doesn’t sound great, right? Hence, it is very important to be able to manage the information that is up there, so Google can make the right connections. So do not panic. I have good news for you. It’s not hard, we have the power, and we can do it together.
So, after this, do you still think that online privacy is more important than your reputation? I don’t think so. I would rather have positive information about myself when someone searches for me on the internet than the picture of the mugshot guy.
I invite you Google yourself. Do you like what you see? If not, follow me and let’s fix it!