As one blogger from an online PR company notes, the name “John Smith” pulls up 33,369 profiles on LinkedIn (http://www.prweb.com/releases/linkedin/cvlynk/prweb9029204.htm). Admittedly this is not a problem I face myself, as I am among the lucky ones with an extremely rare name (as far as I am aware I am currently the only Anna Clancy-Stride online, and therefore my LinkedIn comes up on the first page of google results.) However, after some light research, I have come to conclusion that those with a more common name can work to create an individual & unique professional profile, and it seems there are a number of ways you can differentiate yourself from the other “John Smiths” around.
Firstly, as branding consultant Kimberly Bordonaro suggests, you could use a variation of your own name in order to stand out from the rest. Thinking about this, I have a handful of friends who have taken to using their more unusual middle names instead of their surname on their Facebook or twitter accounts. Or perhaps you have a unique (yet still professionally suitable) nickname, or perhaps there is another abbreviation you could use. So if you were called Charlotte Jane Smith, perhaps you could create your online identity as C.J.Smith (http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/common-name-branding.html).
A personal idea- perhaps it is worthwhile to create a Gravitar if you are trying to battle against a common name, to keep your various profiles consistent, interlinked, & to differentiate yourself. There is also the option of using a service such as Vizibility (www.vizibility.com) or BrandYourself (www.BrandYourself.com) to help you appear further up in the search engine results, but this is far from ideal as you would have to pay. Having said that, if you planned to start a business in your name it might be an option worth considering after carrying out a Cost/Benefit analysis. (it should also be noted that BrandYourself and Vizibility offer their most basic services for free).
What is more, Self-branding advisers emphasise the significance of linking your profiles together as much as possible, via an About.me page or just by posting links to your other profiles on all of your accounts (http://vizibility.net/blog/can-a-linkedin-profile-vouch-for-you-if-your-name-is-buried/). They place a lot of emphasis once again on connecting with influencers and networking in order to get your personal brand to be noticed above the other “John Smith’s” and improve your profile’s activity and therefore its’ search engine results.
So to conclude, yes it definitely is harder for those with a more common name to stand out, but it’s not unachievable. There are many ways round to differentiate yourself, you would just have to be a little more creative and think outside the box…
http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/common-name-branding.html- Advice from branding consultant Kimberly Bordonaro
http://www.prweb.com/releases/linkedin/cvlynk/prweb9029204.htm PRWeb onlineidentity blog
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/03/30/how-to-improve-your-online-identity U.S News, How to Improve your Online Identity.