Don't Name Baby After Dad -- You're Damning His Online Reputation (And Yours!)

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Naming the baby after the father used to be as common as meatloaf and green beans. It was a deeply rooted and well-respected tradition.

And listen, I understand the desire. You're passing on your genes, your values, and your legacy - what better way to do that than to name the child after the father? Keep that patriarchal lineage going strong, You're already passing on your last name so why not the first name too?

I'll tell you why.

Taking control of your online presence is challenging enough without having to compete with your own kid in the process.

These days, your online presence is your business card, your resume, and your credentials all wrapped into one. Everyone Googles you now. Your clients, your employers - even potential dates. What do you think clients do as soon as they get your name as a reference? You got it.

Heck, 75% of hiring departments are required to look you up online before they decide to invite you to an interview. And up to 70% of them say they've chosen not to hire a person based on what they've found out about them online. If your results look bad, you're much more likely to get passed over for someone else. On the flip side, stellar search results can give you a huge edge in the competitive job market. Resumes tend to blend into one another but you can stand out if you look like an all-star online.

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(Image via Brandyourself.com)

How do you take control of your search results? The short answer is that you need to distinguish yourself from anyone else of the same name and convince the search gods (i.e. Google) that you are the most worthwhile thing to show when users search your name online. (Here's the longer answer.)

This requires:

  1. A lot of effort -- you need to build websites and social profiles and keep them consistently active with high quality, sharable content.
  • A little luck -- your work may be much harder or easier depending on the existing competition for your name.
  • Some folks have the sad misfortune of being named something extraordinarily common. These guys and gals must fight for the rest of their adult lives, scratching and clawing their way onto the first few pages of search results. I empathize with the John Smiths of the world.

    Other people are born with the same name as someone famous. This is perhaps even worse. To stand out online, these people must do all they can to overcome that famous person's search results. Imagine the frustration the Michael Jacksons of the world must feel...

    But some lucky folks are given uncommon names, and these lottery winners can start cleaning up their online presence like its nothing. The saddest thing of all is when one of these uniquely-named lucky winners shoots himself in the foot and names his kid the exact same thing. It's like taking that lottery ticket and tearing it up.

    The father that gives his son the same name must now compete online with his own kid for the rest of his life. It's a lose-lose situation. Either he gives up control of his search results - thus allowing irrelevant and negative results to dominate his personal brand - or he puts his best foot forward online and forever overshadows his child's online presence. Talk about a zero-sum game.

    Family matters are challenging enough without a life-long competition for the same small piece of online real estate. There are much more clever ways to honor your family than naming your son a Junior. Do yourself and your son a favor and give him a unique name.

    Originally published on ryanerskine.com, Main image via PSFK.com