11 May 2009

What Happens when Your Identity is Confused with Others?

Unless you have a very unusual name, chances are there are several other people in the world that share your first and last name. This is kinda neat, but what if your name twin doesn’t do the honor justice?

Before the Internet, you may have never known. Now a simple Google search can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings. What if a client runs a Google search and instead of you turning up, your name twin does?

Ines Hegedus-Garcia has been dealing with this issue for quite sometime. Check out her recent post.

Here’s some suggestions on how to ensure you rule over any other name twins online.

  • Make sure a fabulous recent head shot and bio appears on your website and blog.
  • Check any website (like a nonprofit you volunteer at or organization you belong to) and make sure you are correctly identified. Make sure your stats are consistent: name, title, occupation, company, hometown, contact info.
  • Join a professional networking site such as LinkedIn. Your profile will rank high on Google searches.
  • Leave online bread crumbs. For example, whenever you post a comment on a blog or write a book review on Amazon leave your real name rather than a user name.
  • If the persona of your online twin is so strong that you can’t avoid being confused get clever. Consider always using your middle initial or a nickname in everything you do to distinguish yourself.
  • If you are a new agent check for online name twins before they start building your personal branding strategy. (Coaches, this would be a good idea for you to instruct your agent clients to do). This will save you lots of time, money and disappointment by making tweaks now rather than later.
  • Make contact with your online name twin. There may be ways you can work together to help one another. A mutual link on each others websites or adjustments in title tags. Of course this assumes you don’t have an evil online name twin!

This is just one more thing to add to the list of considerations when managing your online identity. Good luck and happy Googling!

BTW, I’m not the Wendy Forsythe who graduated from St. Bernard’s High School in 1994, or the Wendy Forsythe from Idaho Falls or the Wendy Forsythe in Colorado. If you happen to leave the “e” off my last name and Google Wendy Forsyth, well that’s definitely not me!

9 thoughts on “What Happens when Your Identity is Confused with Others?

  1. There CANNOT be another “Wendy Forsythe”!! I am fortunate the other “ines” is nice and has corrected people when they have confused us – but it still makes you think about the consequences of an evil twin taking advantage of your social capital.

  2. I can’t believe there’s another Ines! I bet she doesn’t know a thing about mojitos!

    I actually had this post in draft to go up tomorrow and then saw yours today. I added in the reference to your post. It was the perfect example.

    What do they say about great minds?

  3. Wendy, you are more than right! I don’t know anything about mojitos!
    So far I have received messages and welcomes for “the original” but no risk for her of me “taking advantage”. It’s more a social issue since she is so well know in the online RE World.
    I asked a few experts when I started and since our markets do not touch (she is east and I am west) and truthfully for someone looking to buy in the Miami Beach, Weston is not an option!!!

  4. Wendy, great article. I am surprised that there hasn't been more news about this.

    It isn't just individuals, but also businesses that can suffer.

    When a company that shares the same corporate name with another entity that has a bad reputation, it seems there is more bad news on the internet about your company "twin" than the good news about own entity.

    The problem level is unknown, as you will never truly know how many people decided not to visit your website when they see the negative news about your twin.

    Aggressive online efforts are required which are costly and time consuming, but unfortunately necessary.


    *ValcorUSA.com Business Debt Mediation Services – (not the purported "Valcor investment scam from Nicaragua".)

  5. Excellent post Wendy!
    this is getting into a big issue now and your suggestions are right on.

    i agree with David coz few months back we worked with one of our client who was getting affected by twin name. and being the CEO of the company, his biz was getting affected in terms on online leads.

    the other twin person was behind bars for quite many cases and was topped on google for his name..
    and we couldnt do anything with that as we cant remove those bad links from google.

    So, we did SMO (Social Media Optimization) for this client for complete 2 months which covers article writing, press releases, blogs, bookmarking, social network profiles, all these activities to make sure 1st 2-3 pages are ranked with his links only. and it worked perfectly.

    so, as you said, its better to start today instead of doing this excercise later on 🙂

  6. BTW,
    even i found another Santosh Kompalwar few days back.. i received his request on FB but i kept it on hold just bcoz i thought it might be confusing for other people to network with me.. but after reading your post, i think it wont affect me much if i have him on my FB…
    fortunately he is not into same business.. he is a journalist… i just approved his request on FB to network…

    now, i need to build my social capital a bit more.
    the only problem i foresee is there are a LOT of contacts or clients who never saw my picture and used to deal with me either through email or phone. they might get confused in such situations… dont know how to handle this…any thoughts on this would be appreciated

  7. Hi Santosh

    Great example of how to overcome a negative online twin by using socail media optimization. Thanks for sharing that. It takes work, but obviously worth it.

    Have you thought of adding your photo to your email signature block? This way your customers will have an image of you along with your name. This making your connection stronger.

  8. The funny part is everyone thinks there is another John Smith out there, but they don't realize there are other Bhupinderjeet Rhanial or whatever other Indian, Greek, Russian name you throw out there, not only in these native lands, but here in North America as well as both the US and Canada are heavily multi-culturalized.

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