Unluckily, there’s a mass murderer who has exactly the same name as me. Like, the same middle name and everything. I’d tolerated this fact for a long time, but last year, I took the decision to tweak my name and start calling myself ‘Martin SFP Bryant’ professionally.
When I was an employee, it was less of a problem. But when I struck out on my own, I need to be Google-able in my own right. Having the first page of search results filled with the other guy is a bit of a problem, as you can imagine. Even if no-one confuses him with me, it’s not a great first impression.
A few years ago, I made music as ‘The Star Fighter Pilot,’ and as a result, I used ‘MartinSFP’ as my Twitter user name when I signed up there. Given ‘MartinSFP’ already pointed to me online, it made sense to retrospectively work that handle into my professional name.
I changed my name everywhere I could: Twitter, LinkedIn, this website, relevant profiles around the web… I even asked TV and radio producers to refer to me on air with my tweaked name when I was asked to comment on news stories. Given the circumstances, they usually said yes.
BAM! It worked. I changed my professional name just enough to make a difference, and the other guy haunts my search results a lot less as a result.
If you’d like to read more, The Atlantic wrote about my search engine woes last year.