How To Protect YOUR Online Reputation
Do not leave your reputation
to chance or gossip; it is your life's artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of
an artist. ~Robert Greene, Author "The 48 Laws of Power"
Your reputation precedes you.
Whether that’s an advantage or not is largely up to the world wide web - search engines that catalog everything, blogs and websites where others talk about you as a professional and as a
person, social media sites
where you get tagged whether you’re on it or
not. That’s a lot of channels where your name can be misrepresented, misused or misconstrued as a
Here are moves you can immediately
execute to G-U-A-R-D
your online reputation:
Grasp : Why Protect Your Online Reputation?
I’m betting you’ve googled your
name at least once before, out of morbid curiosity or mild vanity. Well, clients, journalists, partners,
employers, employees, casual acquaintances, virtually anyone who comes across your name or receives your
business card will look you up on a search engine for different reasons - and will leave with a stronger
impression based on what they find there. In other words, your profile online translates to your offline
reputation and vice versa.
The adage “think before you
talk/act” now has “because it’ll be heard/seen online” to complete the thought. There are enough embarrassingly
damaging evidence of this in executives declaring one thing officially to the public, while behind (what they
thought to be) closed doors, they are caught saying something else. The take away lesson? Marketer Andy Beal
says it’s to have sincerity, transparency, consistency as 3 words to live by in this digital
Unflinching honesty : What Could Damage Your
Take stock of what may be a
cause for controversy or misinterpretation - your involvement in high profile or sensitive projects, strong
statements on personal convictions, even issues linked to your affiliations. Knowing what questions may be
raised online about your professional and personal life helps you prepare for potentially uncomfortable
exchanges, instead of catching you entirely by surprise.
This isn’t limited to anything
written. Use Google, Yahoo or Bing Image/Video search, too, to look up photo/footage results for your
name. Aside from embarrassing/compromising media making their way online, there have also been cases when
personal pictures have been used without the owner’s permission. Check your privacy settings and delete
unflattering content. On the flip side, be sure to tag yourself on photos that generate positive
impressions, such as snapshots from that exclusive industry dinner you attended or that well-attended
lecture you gave.
Ahead : What Can You Do To Be Proactive?
If you can, claim your
domain name, because chances are you’ll have a doppleganger with the same name somewhere in the world. Once
you’ve declared your place online - whether with a personal website, blog, or social media account - put your
best foot forward with a dapper layout and engaging content. You invest in your personal grooming,
wardrobe, gadgets and other accessories to impress people you meet - your virtual persona should do no
Being on the high speed
information highway makes regularly producing fresh content a must (it’s what search engines favor). This
timing is also crucial when your reputation encounters any attack, nipping it in the bud can save you
snowballing unwanted attention. Should any situation arise, it will be easier to handle when you have taken
measures to manage your online reputation, than if you are starting from scratch. Hence, the importance of
actively building your reputation online now rather than in the midst of bad publicity.
If you can’t delete
discrediting content, and given that it’s not possible to chase after your every critic, turn to reducing its
visibility by constantly sharing positive information. Social Media expert Antony Mayfield points out,
“If you can’t delete, compete...majority of cases the best course is to make sure you are the first and best source of information about
yourself.” Your goal is for favorable content to appear within the first results page of typing key words such
as your name or your position in the company.
Relationships : Are You Connected To The Right
Look for the centers of
influence for your profession, places where you'll find relevant conversations to engage in and showcase
your expertise, work or company. Start with existing networks - your alma mater, company, civic organizations,
professional organizations - then branch out to groups you aspire to become associated with and meet new
contacts. Boost your online footprint by leaving comments on articles and sites you want your name to be
affiliated with, or by linking back to your own content.
Your profile on social
networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have more SEO clout because of the way they are built, and
therefore will likely come up among the first results of any search inquiry. Make the most out of them by
completing your profile, create relationships with colleagues, join interest groups, and share content
that is aligned with the professional image you want to show.
Do More : How Do You Take It To The Next Level?
One of the easiest steps to
monitoring your online reputation is by setting up Google Alerts on your dashboard. This feature sends
you an email alert whenever it picks up new content that uses keywords you indicate (i.e. your name). This gives
you the ability to track whenever you are mentioned, as often as you check your email.
There are also several online
reputation management service providers such as Brand-Yourself.com, Trackur.com, and Reputation.com that
make it there business to protect your name. You may consider this especially if you are taking a broader, more
serious digital approach in your profession.
At the end of the day, however,
G-U-A-R-D-ing can only do so much with what you have already established yourself. That said, being safe is
always better than being sorry, and these calculated moves add several more layers of security. As Robert Greene
captures so fervently, “So much depends on reputation - guard it with your life.”
Greene, Robert. “The 48 Laws of
Power.” Penguin (Business). Sept 2000.
Beal, Andy. “Ten Tactics That
Could Save Your Online Reputation.” <http://mashable.com/2008/03/11/online-reputation/>.
14 Nov 2011.
Kessler, Sarah. “HOW TO: Manage
Your Online Reputation Using SEO.” <http://mashable.com/2011/06/27/manage-online-reputation-seo/>. 13 Nov
Mabeal, Antony. “3 Tips for
Managing Your Online Reputation.” <http://mashable.com/2010/04/08/managing-online-reputation/>. 14 Nov