Are business cards on their way out?

In the age of Google, perhaps they are:

I saw a pattern of responses to the question, "Do you have a business card?" Many of the responses were the same, "just Google my name and you will find me."

So, go now and do your ego-tickling exercise: search for your first name only, then search for first and last name, then for first and last name in quotation marks. Will people find you if they Google your name?

When I search just "Bora", the top hits are about the island in Tahiti, the next tier is for Volkswagen Bora (and Google helpfully asks if that is the search you want to expand). I am the first human to show up right underneath the car: 'Science And Politics' is #2 and "A Blog Around The Clock" is #5.

When I search for "Bora Zivkovic"(with or without quotes), you need to go a long way down the page to find anyone but me (there is apparently a Danish soccer player of that name).

With a name like this, it was not hard to get so high. But a John or Mary Smith may have more difficulty. How did you do?


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Here's what happens with my very common name:

First+second, with or without quotes: I'm on the first page, but another two scientists of the same name, one very eminent, show up first.

Just first name or just last name: I'm nowhere to be seen. Although, oddly enough, my picture from a departmental web page used to be the first result on a google image search for my first name.

Actually, Bill, is the first item and the next bunch mostly seem to be you as well. I guess some things are better in our imaginations than in real life...

As for my name, my blog is first both with and without quotes, but the combination of English first name and French last name is pretty rare (at least outside Canada) that it's not too surprising. Incidentally, the wikipedia entry isn't me, but there's a long, weird story around that. I'm also first in google for the search "science librarian" with and without quotes. Sadly, that search only happens once or twice a week on the entire planet. Big fish, microscopic pond.

As for business cards, I like them mostly because they help me remember the person's name. If I'm at a meeting or conference, within a day or two I won't remember the name or the organization of half the people I promise to contact after the event. I always try and write some sort of note on the back of the card too.

With a common name like "Rob Miller", I don't show up in the first few pages. But '"Rob Miller" Boise' has me in the top three slots.
I still use business cards.

If you can spell my name, I'm easy to Google. Every hit that comes back when you search my name in quotes is actually me. Unfortunately, it's apparently quite hard for people, even some of those who've known me since birth, to spell both my first and last names correctly at the same time. I'd never tell anybody I really wanted to hear from to Google me.

There are a whole lot of people with my name online, including an actress I didn't know about until just now.

I suspect that for most people "google me" is bad advice. Since I've been doing the TDS/TCR chat thread over at dKos, where I write up a bit of something about the night's guests, checking out all those other people online with the same name as 'Famous Person Who's Gonna Be On The TeeVee' is great entertainment -- there's usually an artist of some sort (whatever name you start with), often a variety of academics, sometimes really random sites/jobs, and more than a few times there's a person in roughly the same field as FPWGBOTTV, making me be not-lazy in the googling. Sometimes I get good material out of it, especially if I'm kinda bored by the guest and/or topic...

Also, I'm another one who has lousy aural memory. I need to see stuff written down to remember, and if you meet me and want to make sure that I'll think about doing business with you, you'd better hand me something so I can remember who you are, and why it is I care.

By TiaRachel (not verified) on 23 Apr 2007 #permalink

Joseph Shelby hits mostly my Civil War namesake, and when it finally does hit the real me, it hits info-on-me sites at places where I've published, like O'Reilly (through or submitted to online forums.

So no, it probably wouldn't work for me.

Of course, the fact that I haven't had the time to rewrite up a new home page since I let my old one expire (I own the domain, but not the time), might have something to do with it. Living in the blog world where my personal blog doesn't really give my name kinda hides me to the world.

By Joe Shelby (not verified) on 23 Apr 2007 #permalink

With a white bread name like John McKay I'm in the same spot as Rob Miller, but in my case, even adding the town doesn't help. John McKay in Seattle will get you a page of news items about the recently purged US Attorney for western Washington. When I was in grad school, I looked my name up in a faculty directory and found two other John McKay historians in the US. My grandfather, Uncle, and cousin were all named John McKay. The Republican president of the Florida senate was a John McKay in 2000 as was a Tory MP in Ontario. When I lived in Anchorage, a city of only 250K, there were six of us in the phone book.

On the other hand, I'm guaranteed a certain amount of privacy by disappearing into the always present crowd of John McKays.

The entire first page is all me, and most of the second page. My actual job at the radio station doesn't show up until the end of the first page, but my blog is the first thing that comes up, followed by my Facebook profile.

I've already gotten into some trouble because of this - a couple summers ago I was reapplying to a camp that I've worked at for every year for the 6 years prior to that summer. It was a christian camp, and someone googled my name finding out that I was an atheist and that I mentioned the camps name on my blog. They took me to court over it trying to get me to remove any reference to the camp from my blog and they definitely didn't hire me.

If I Google my first name and maiden name in quotes I get only two results - both me. My grandfather came from a small village in central Finland, and everyone with my maiden name is from the same family in that village.

However, if I Google my married name, there are lots of other women with the same name, including a psychologist, an assistant coach at Davidson, a professor at San Diego State University, and a piano teacher.

I can't find myself anywhere in the first ten pages for Sunstone. All minerals and businesses. Paul Sunstone fares better: I'm the only one on the first page.

over 300 million google matches on my real first name
over 100 million google matches on my real last name
about 250 thousand matches to "first last" names
I sampled a few places, none of these is me.

I added qualifiers such as names of companies I have worked for [resumes are all over the place] and the town I live in...nothing I do not exist.
This is not by accident. A search with employers "OR"ed together finally found me, my name is on a patent.
One long dead e-mail address associated with a bicycle advocacy list-serve and one from an ecology listserve. Total of 5 google matches in the whole damn world as far as I can detect.

The geneologies with my family name are numerous...we must have a vanity gene or something.

on the other hand, my greensmile is 4 of the first 10 hits out of 37000 total.

If I google my first name only, I'm nowhere to be found, 5.5 million hits. If I google my last name, there is some company, an artist, a restaurant, other stuff for several pages, my dad (4th page), and I got tired of looking for myself. I guess I'm not there. If I google my first and last name, I'm the first 15 hits, after that my dad and mom pop up. Individually my names are fairly common, but in combination, they're not.