If you've ever searched for a specific person's name on Google, you probably know that, in the past, it often hasn't worked very well. Google wants to change this, and compete with Facebook and LinkedIn while they're at it.
In order for searches to work, the person you're searching for has to set up a public profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, and now Google. Some people worry, understandably, about the privacy implications of this. I have argued that business people will probably find it worthwhile to give up a little privacy in return for visibility that can be positive for marketing purposes. It's a matter of being careful about what information you choose to make public; all of the sites I've mentioned have good tools for controlling what is displayed, and to whom.
If you decide to set up a public profile on Google, here's how you do it. First, decide which email address you want associate with the profile. (The email address itself doesn't need to be public, but that address is how you will log in the future to make changes.)
- If you want the profile to be associated with an email address @gmail.com, log in at http://mail.google.com and click on Settings, then Accounts. You'll see an option that says Google Account settings. Click on the link, and you'll be taken to a page headed [Your_Name]'s Google Account.
- But wait! If you don't have an email address @gmail.com, or if you'd prefer to use a business or personal email address that you already have, you can still create a Google profile. You can do this by registering your chosen email address as a Google Account--see instructions. Once you have done that, go to https://www.google.com/accounts/ to create your profile.
Now that you have logged in to the Google Account Settings page, look under Profile. Click on the link that says Create Your Profile. Fill in the information, especially the About Me and Contact Info sections. Note that the information on the About Me page is public, and will display in Google searches, so be careful what you add. The Contact Info data is not public, unless you specify otherwise.
When you are ready, click on the big blue button at the bottom of the page that says Create A Google Profile. You can always return to this page and make changes later.
It will be interesting to see how useful, and how widely used, Google Profile Searches turn out to be. After all, they aren't social networks, and don't have the features such sites have. But I wouldn't be surprised if Profile Searches become popular, since most people turn to Google for most searches.