In North America, it’s estimated that better than 80 per cent of women still take their husband’s name along with those wedding vows. Not long ago, there wasn’t much downside to doing it. Women married younger. Far fewer pursued a career after marriage. And those who did rarely chose one that was deeply entrenched in their “personal brand”, which today is often their name.
Of course, there are other non-marital reasons for changing your name. Many women revert to their maiden names after divorce. Some newcomers want to “Canadian-ize” their names for any number of reasons, and all kinds of scenarios play out relating to things like adoption, family dynamics, and just plain personal choices and preferences.
Fast forward to this ultra-socially connected world, there’s much more to consider if you’re thinking about a name change now. Just what is really vested in that personal brand that is your name? What are you putting on the line — and risking losing — if you’re no longer recognizable or traceable in today’s uber-connected digital world? If you’re thinking about changing your name on social media, there’s certainly a lot to consider if you don’t want to end up erasing your “personal brand”.
Contacts. Okay, you have your list of friends, family, colleagues and business associates. You can call or email to tell them about your pending (or recent) nuptials and your new moniker. But what about that partner at a top CPA firm that you met a few years back? What if, unbeknownst to you, your dream job has just opened up on her team? She remembers you, and thinks you’d be perfect for it. Will she be able to track you down on LinkedIn if your name has changed? Not likely.
Accreditations. Your school transcripts and university degrees will be associated with the name you had when you received them. Some schools may allow you to change them, but be prepared for lots of time and hassles. Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario say all you need do is present them with your name-change documentation and they’ll make the adjustments. But a larger issue may be changing your practice name, if yours is on the shingle. That, too, has to be registered with the CPAO. And there’s the expense of changing signage, marketing materials and websites…
Media. Have you published articles, been interviewed, spoken or contributed to an expert panel under your previous name? A name change can erase the online links to those kinds of credits and accomplishments. That can be a big part of your reputation, experience and fame… all lost for perpetuity in the digital world.
So what to do if you want to change your name on your social profiles while preserving the brand you’ve created around your name? Here’s some advice.
5 Tips To Help You Change Your Name On Social Media And Preserve Your ‘Personal Brand’
1. Add to, don’t delete
Instead of adopting a whole new surname, consider hyphenating your maiden and married names, or including your maiden name some other way to your social accounts and content for search purposes. For instance, LinkedIn allows you to include your maiden name in parentheses so anyone searching for you under your previous name will still find you.
2. Give fair warning
If possible, send a message to your online network contacts to let them know you’ve got, or soon will have, a new name on your social profiles.
Keep what’s working. Set up new social profiles with your new name, but keep the old ones open and active. This way, people searching for you under your previous name will still be able to find you online and get in touch. You can always add a notice about your name change on those established pages, and provide a link to your new accounts.
3. Don’t forget about URLs
If you change any URLs, be sure to update them across the web. For example, LinkedIn public profile URL might sometimes be linked to your other social profiles, webpages and email signature. Most social sites do not put redirects in place for you, so you’ll need to manually change these links.
4. Keep your profile picture
Don’t change your profile picture at the same time you change your name. Updating both at the same time will make it even harder for people to make the connection that you’re still the same person.
Keeping The Status Quo
Last but not least, if you’re considering changing your name, you always have the option of keeping the status quo when it comes to your online professional persona. That way, you can hold on to all the online history you’ve cultivated around your personal brand.
Have a thought? A suggestion? A story to share about a successful online name change… or maybe one that wasn’t? We’d love to hear your story.