Fictitious Names, the Internet, and Reputation ManagementDid you know that Mark Twain’s real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens? Yet, he wrote the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and other legendary written works under his fictitious name. The practice of using fictitious names for publishing books and articles through print has been a widely accepted practice for hundreds of years. With the adoption of the Internet, the practice did migrate, to some extent, to the internet.
For one reason or another, people started to write articles and often they thought that it wasn’t a good idea to use their real name when posting to an article website or sometimes even their own website. But the truth is that if you’re a small business owner then you need to use your REAL NAME! The simple fact is that people can’t hide on the internet. And whether your business is online or off the best thing that you can do for your business is to be truthful with your customers. Doing anything less will just come back to haunt you.
Now real quick I want to tell you a story that relates to why I am writing this post. Over the past few days as I work to build up my business I’ve been joining some of the more popular business social networks. I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for awhile now and having liked the experience I wanted to broaden my reach so I’ve recently joined other sites such as Entrepreneur Connect, ecademy, Fast Pitch, Xing, and Biznik.com. And with each one I used my own name, Cash Miller. I’ve never used a fictitious name when writing for article sites or for my business. I’ve always used my real name. Well within hours of joining Biznik.com I received an email that told me that it is against their policy for members to use fictitious names, business names or two names for a member profile and that they had pulled my profile from public view. Needless to say that for me this was a first. Of course since my first name is somewhat uncommon I figured that they thought I was using a fictitious name. Needless to say I was a bit miffed at them for this. I felt like these people who I didn’t even know had just called me a liar to my face. I immediately started crafting a reply which started out somewhat sarcastic and mean. Once I calmed down I decided to tone it down some. It seemed an honest mistake and once I sent my reply they immediately apologized and restored my profile to public view. But what amuses me even more about this is the fact that they need such a policy and that they enforce it so thoroughly. This tells me that they might actually have a problem with people using fictitious names for their profiles. Why would someone want to use a fictitious name for a social networking profile? Where’s the business advantage in that?
Ok so that’s my story, but the point of the story is this. Use your real name when writing or networking, anything in fact to do with your business. Because with every article, comment, interaction and so on you’re building your reputation. You need to be genuine with your audience. If you’re a fiction writer then sure go ahead use a fictitious name if that suits you but if you’re using your writing to build your business then it’s the wrong approach. I want people to know who I am. And I know that not everything said about me will necessarily be positive but that’s ok. Because the people that really get to know me know that I’m honest with them. And that’s what matters most.
So just to make sure everyone knows. My name is Cash Miller and that’s not a fictitious name.
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