Will the real Ryan Hunt please stand up? – making yourself visible online
Mom, Dad, I’m sorry, but you picked a really generic name for me. It’s not your fault, you couldn’t have known that ‘Ryan’ would be the 11th most popular boy’s name of 1986. At the time you didn’t know anyone else named Ryan, you probably thought it was a safe choice. Little did you know that your name choice would make me almost invisible.
My name is Ryan Hunt. While I admire the symmetry of my name, four letters in the front, four letters in the back, it’s never been a name I’ve been particularly fond of. Don’t get me wrong, I like my last name. Hunt carries a certain degree of strength and masculinity. It’s the Ryan part that I have a problem with.
It seems almost every week I read a story or two about the importance of having a well-established online presence. Everyone, especially junior academics like myself, should be visible online. This allows people to find you, be they potential employers, colleagues, or members of the general public.
In order to establish an online presence, it is recommended that people take an active role on the web. This could include blogging, Facebook, twitter, or anything that leaves a digital footprint that is attached to your name.
This is all well and good, but what happens if you have a fairly common name? As it turns out, it makes being visible a lot more difficult.
If you Google ‘ryan hunt’ you receive 95.7 million results. The first hit is for Linkedin’s directory for all Ryan Hunts using their service. While I can be found using in this directory, it requires a bit of searching. The second result is for the twitter account @ryanhunt, which is sadly, not me (though I am envious of his twitter name).
Despite having accounts with Facebook, twitter, Skype, Blogger, WordPress, so.cl, heello, Klout, Google+, and a number of other even smaller (if that can be believed) social networks, none of the top results on Google link to me.
The only presence I have on the first page of a Google search is the picture linked to my academia.edu account. While a small presence is better than no presence at all, this picture is only really helpful if someone already knows what I look like before searching for me. If someone already knows what I look like, they probably already know how to find me.
So what kind of advice can I offer to those who like me have a common name? Here are five strategies I’m using to make myself more visible online:
1. Engage, engage, engage – Popular links are more likely to turn up in search results than less popular ones. In order make myself more visible I’m trying to engage the largest possible social network. Some people call this networking, but I prefer to call it engagement. Through Facebook, twitter, and this blog I’ve been trying to connection with as many new people as possible. Even if creating a large, engaged social network doesn’t make me any more visible, it’s giving me a chance to meet new people and form interesting connections.
2. Speed counts – When it comes to making yourself stand out, speed matters. Had I signed up for twitter earlier, I would be the second search result instead of some other Ryan Hunt. If a new social network sounds interesting, stake your name claim earlier.
3. Get your name out there – The more you get your name out there, the easier it becomes to find you. It’s a good idea to have a personal blog with your name in the title. When creating ivrytwr, I chose not to attach my name to it because I want to encourage others to post on it, creating a blogging community. Naming your blog after yourself helps your SEO, but it might not be for everyone.
4. Sign up for many social networks - Of all the different social networks I have accounts with, it surprised me that my academia.edu account is the most visible in searches. It pays to have accounts with a number of different services, you never know how someone might find you.
5. Write a blog post about your name - This post is an experiment to test if writing a blog post about my name makes me easier to find. If you find me through this post, here are links to my twitter account, Facebook profile, academia.edu account, and about.me page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think about your name? How easy are you to find on the internet? Does being visible online matter to you? Please leave a comment or contact me through the litany of social networks that I use. Thanks for reading.