Has your car ever been towed because you parked in a reserved spot?

It happened to me the other day while I was out of town. Let me just say that it's about as much fun as being mugged, and I know because that's happened to me too. (I was raised in the suburbs. Can you tell?)

The stamp-sized sign by the parking spot detailed the fee to be paid ($120), the impounding location (a great place to get mugged), and that a photo ID was required to recover my car.

See, that was going to be a problem. My 2 year old enjoys throwing things into the trash, including my wallet a week prior.

I had no ID and it was getting late. How would I get my car back?

I got a ride to a money machine and to the towing lot from my business partner. As I got out of his car, he said, "If you can convince them to give you back your car with no ID, you really are the Ace of Sales." I took a deep breath and headed into the graffitied office.

The man behind the counter intimidated me for two reasons. One, he was snarling before I even said, "Hello." Two, he had a pistol tucked down the front of his pants. (You can't make this stuff up.)

As you can imagine, without my photo ID he wasn't about to give me my car. When I pushed him harder, he approached the window and hissed through rotten teeth, "Without proof that you're Andy Horner, you get nothing!"

I looked down, dodging the stench of his breath, and noticed my iPad was picking up a wireless signal. Thinking fast, I looked up and posed a challenge to the man. "I'll make you a deal. If you google the name Andy Horner and my photo is on the first page of the image results I get my car back."

He laughed hard. "Deal!"


I think he just wanted to touch my iPad. I showed him how to open the browser and type my name. He tapped the search button. A second later he was staring at my photo - the very first result! It even had my name on the image.

He looked up with a smile on his face. "How'd you do that? What, you some kind of famous singer?" I replied, "Open the gate."

A minute later, I drove up alongside my partner, who'd been waiting for me. He held up both hands as if to ask, "How did you pull it off?" I said, "He found out I was a famous singer."

It's a fun story to tell but there's also a lesson to learn.

Your presence on the internet is now a determining factor in your success. Customers, competitors, and everyone you do business with are going online to research and evaluate you.

Are you on the first page?

If your customers find articles you've written, expertise you've tweeted, photos of you networking, and videos of you expressing your ideas, they will perceive you as important, active, relevant, and valuable. It's the hard proof that will seal their decision to trust you, work with you, and pay your full price.

If they search and find nothing, your business goals may remain... locked away.

Two huge tips for getting ranked in search results:

1. Tag everything. In the description and tag area for a blog post, YouTube video, and your LinkedIn profile include your full name, the name of your business, and other key words that someone might search for when looking you up.

2. Add your name to the image file with a hyphen. When using your portrait as an image in a blog, Facebook, or LinkedIn post, title the image file like this: "andy-horner.jpg" (Use your name of course.)