What happens when someone “googles” you or your professor?

Googling Don SchindlerPersonal branding, I know, is a bad word in academia. I learned that over the past year. So I’ve changed the term and changed how I talk about it. My friend, JP, over at the Science of Generosity gave me a great term to us and I can’t believe how much it has helped. It’s called “Public Intellectual”.

And it works perfectly. Because all of our faculty are “intellectuals” – in fact, they all have brilliant minds and I love talking with them. That was a big draw to leaving retail and going back to my college roots here at Notre Dame. The conversations are inspiring.

But one thing they have to remember in this day and age of the internet is that the “public” part of the term is just as important. Professors are celebrities. And they are in the public whether they want to be or not. I believe most don’t even know how public they are.

I recently had a meeting with one of our more controversial professors. I won’t mention his name but he has the research to back up what he claims and I believe it’s the best thing for humanity.

But the problem he had is that he doesn’t “google” himself very much.

And a lot of interesting things came up that he didn’t know about. Which is unfortunate. Some of it was good – like a Facebook Page all about him that had over 1000 fans.

A lot of people were trying to get in touch with him through the page. But he didn’t even know it was there. One of his fans had created it for him. Now we have to find out who created it and how we can get control of it.

What do you do after you met someone that you are interested in? Do you try to remember where you set their business card and then go to their personal website? No. You “google” them.

If someone you meet is going to “google” you then shouldn’t you be “googling” yourself? Shouldn’t you be “googling” your professors? Your department?

What articles come back attached to you or your professor or department? Is it what you want people to know about you?

Maybe you are the first entry and at the top of the search page – hey, that’s great. But what about all the other entries on that page? Do you think people won’t come back to their search and look at the other links?

Controlling your online digital footprint (it’s a term I like to describe your online profile and google search results) is very important to how people see you.

Google me if you want. Don Schindler.

Look at the results. That’s all me on the front page. Now, granted, I have an unusual name compared to a Bob Smith. But I’m also a marketer. So I should have control of that page if I want you to believe anything about what I’m talking about.

I also control www.donschindler.com. You should have your own name if you can. It’s not that expensive to own – from $5-$15 a year to own a domain.

So how do you control your own digital footprint?

By putting out information about yourself and what you do. By using platforms available to you to get your information out. It’s not as time-consuming as you think and the more you put out there, the more of a chance you have to take over that front page of Google.

So what’s out there to use?

  1. Get your domain name. Make sure it’s your name and not your initials unless that’s how everyone knows you. It’s important. If you can’t get your exact name, then get something very close to it. Like donschindlerphd.com or profdonschindler.com. Something easy people can remember.
  2. Next, if you have a website – make sure it is up-to-date and doesn’t look awful. There are so many people pages on nd.edu that are unbelievably bad. Out of date. Ugly in design. Your page or your professors page says a lot about you and them.
  3. If your website is horrible, think about getting a professional website that you can update on a regular basis without having to go back to the people or person that designed and built it for you. You could use one of our Conductor pre-designed sites. Those are nice. Or, and this is my number one recommendation, use a blog.  We have a blogging platform using WordPress here at blogs.nd.edu They are easy to set up, have great clean designs and are a snap to use. If you can use Word, you can blog.
  4. Get on linkedin.com for your professional use. This is the modern day resume and rolodex in one and a lot professionals use it. Also, it will rank high for your name, right off the bat.
  5. Now social media can be useful for being a public intellectual but if you’ve never used it, then don’t just jump in and start up a page. Make a Facebook profile first. And converse back and forth with your friends only. Start small with social media. Get the hang of it. Then jump in if you want.

My friends, Sean O’Brien and Sean T. O’Brien at Notre Dame Irish Studies, are both awesome at Facebook & Twitter and can help you learn a lot out here.  BTW, check out the new Experimentation Classroom here at ND.

There are also tons of other places to be on the internet. YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, maybe a social media platform dedicated to the things you love (maybe there’s a Ning site out there that specializes in whatever you like).

I guess what I’m trying to get across is that you are on the internet whether you like it or not. And it’s not going away any time soon.

So instead of letting it compile a profile about you (your search results), start looking for ways that you can help feed that profile. This way you know what people will find when they search you out.

If you want any help or are looking for someone to come talk to your dept or group, we are happy to help here at AgencyND.

So what’s your opinion about public intellectuals and digital footprints?


  1. Another great post, Don.

    Here’s an incredible example of the power of “googling” yourself:

    “Alex Brownstein: Copywriter Uses Executives’ ‘Vanity Googling’ To Land a Job”


  2. I love the idea of reframing branding using the term “public intellectual.”

  3. Don Schindler Avatar
    Don Schindler

    @Mike that is awesome. I didn’t know about Vanity Googling.

    @Sean – I credit JP for that term and I love using it.

  4. A great post Don, I had an idea for one just like this, but with my own flavor about the lack of people owning their own domain for their business. I will still post it this week. I think it is a shame that a lot of people will LLC themselves and not even look to see if they can get the .com .org or .net


  5. You are right, Dave. I can’t believe lawyers don’t bring it up. They talk business cards and trademarks but not where the world is now.

  6. Great article Don. When promoting your site or blog, always syndicate your posts or articles to Twitter as well as your facebook account. This gets your site noticed in Google and gets you ranked better.

  7. What a great post Don. You never know what pops up about yourself in Google. Hopefully it’s good. You are so right. Social media is tremendous for syndication. Thanks for sharing!

  8. It always comes as a surprise to me when someone is shocked that sensitive information about them was discovered online. Everything you do on the internet has the potential to be public information, even if you think there are privacy features controlling it.

  9. Carlos Alvarez Avatar
    Carlos Alvarez

    I like this article. But one recomendation, if you are a professor and
    are worried about how much of your public life is exposed on the
    internet than don’t have social networks such as Facebook etc..If you find
    out someone created a fan page or a profile page you didn’t created there’s a
    “Report Page” to Facebook. Options will pop out saying why you are reporting
    the page, and one includes the option, “This person is trying to be me.” And problem will be solved.

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