It’s been just over a month since I transitioned from using the online (and offline) alias I’ve built over the last five years to my real name. And looking at how the last month has turned out, I’ve gotta say…
It’s one of the best career decisions I’ve made.
I had a lot of hesitation before I made the big leap. I worried about a few things:
- Would my following run for the hills?
- Would I be forced to filter myself beyond recognition?
- Would using my real name cost me opportunities before I even had a chance to pursue them?
All in all, there’s been no negative impact. Things have actually gotten better. And in a few ways, they’ve gotten easier. Let me tell you why.
Filtering is a non-factor when your messaging is aligned with what you value.
I was worried that using my real name would take the fun out of social media. I thought I’d have to resort to sending out brand-safe messages and living my (online) life according to some script. I’d have to hide who I am for the sake of maintaining a squeaky clean image.
It’s turned out to be the opposite.
I still talk about my passions. I still make jokes. I still engage in dialogue about my favorite shows. Do I spare some of the more [adult] jokes? Yes. But that’s a tiny price to pay for the new freedom I have and the new opportunities that will come. Some subjects are better left offline anyway.
I can do business with one business card and minimal explaining.
When I used an alias, I had multiple business cards. I also had to spend too much time explaining how people could find me online. A lot of my greatest accomplishments are attached to my alias. So when someone important looks me up by real name, they don’t find any of the great stuff I’ve told them…which makes me look like Johnny Bluff, and creates an unnecessarily complicated conversation about where the real info is.
And even though old stuff will continue to be attached to the alias, any new accomplishments or success stories will be easily available without the explanations. Since I plan on making some power moves in the next year right alongside you, I’m optimistic about the online reputation I’ll develop as me, not the character on your favorite tv show. (That’s what the alias felt like.)
People connect more with a real name than a character.
Some might debate this, but I feel like I’ve made a better connection with my audience since I’ve made the transition. I’ve also noticed more people freely reach out to me. Possibly because they know I’m not hiding behind a name. And as a business person, it does wonders for building trust with potential clients and contacts.
I remember introducing myself to people as my alias and getting a side eye before they asked, “So what did your momma name you?”
The less side eyes you draw, the better. Uphill battles when building relationships are not the squirrel’s tail, bee’s knees, or cat’s meow.
These are just a few of the benefits since I’ve went to Rich from my other four letter name. If you’re struggling with whether or not you should make a transition, I advise you to strongly consider the calculated leap. Or, you could have two accounts — one where you’re professional and one where you act a fool — and have to toggle back and forth…and worry, like I used to, about sharing the wrong info with the wrong audience. After all, it only takes one tweet or Facebook update. Just ask one of the people who you’ve seen have to apologize for something they said online.
And, the toggling is draining.
But the choice is up to you. I just wanted to share my experience in hopes that if this is an issue for you, it’ll make it easier for you to decide what’s next. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, and what you think about this topic based on your experience. Oh yeah…
And have a great week!
Note: If you do make the switch to or are currently using your real name, make sure you actually do work during the day and don’t spend the whole time tweeting and facebooking. If a recruiter or hiring manager sees that, they’ll wonder when you actually do work…and move to the next candidate.