The Internet has made our personal and professional lives very transparent. We now live in the fishbowl. Despite what many will argue, your privacy is no longer fully in your control. Your online identity is also something that others can control, and you
need to do your best to manage it. Managing your online reputation and protecting it is equivalent to marketing your personal brand, YOU.
A colleague of mine is an adjunct professor of writing and communications at Boston University. He’s very intelligent and excellent at what he does. However if you were to look up his name on the web you would find some pretty horrible commentary on a professor
ratings site from some of his former students, many of which flunked out of his class.
He of course, was devastated. I would be too. When awful things about you show up on the first page of search, that’s nothing to take lightly. Especially if you are submitting applications for jobs, schools, running for office or going out on date for that
matter. Anyone who Googles you then sees the negativity.
Recently I was contacted by a consultant who specializes in marketing of consultants. OK, I’m listening. So I get the pitch and it sounded like a great deal. We hashed out all the terms and conditions, I checked her references and was ready to write a check.
Then my security instinct kicked in. As soon as money is to leave my bank account and head towards another, I begin to think differently, its how I’m wired. I did a search online of this consultant and the company she works for before I sent the check.
Immediately on the first page of search, reports from the Better Business Bureau, Complaints Board and the dreaded RipoffReport show up. There was also a blog set up by one very upset customer who felt slighted by this company. The blog was started over
a year ago and he still contributes to it. This company had 16 registered complaints with the BBB and only 10 were solved. Based on my research and what I had originally thought was a to good to be true offer in the first place, I chose not to do business
with this company.
I know that companies with high volume and lots of customers are bound to upset someone. So there is certainly room for error. If you have a million clients and 1500 complaints, you’re doing pretty well. Frankly, as a professional speaker I know that in
most presentations I give that 5 percent of the room will absolutely loath me. They may not like my Boston accent, or I look like an ex-husband, or the bully who tortured them in school or simply because I’m breathing. But 95% want me to come back and teach
them more. So you can’t please everyone.
Left unattended, the wild wild web and “search” is a relatively uncontrollable aspect of your reputation, unless of course you make and attempt to control it.
Register your full name and those of your spouse and kids on the most trafficked social media sites, blogs, domains or web based email accounts. If your name is already gone, include your middle initial, a period or a hyphen. It’s up to you to decide whether
or not to plug in your picture and basic bio, but consider leaving out your age or birthday.
Set up a free Google Alerts for your name and get an email every time your name pops up online. If you encounter a site that disparages you,
Google has advice. Get a
Google Profile. It’s free and it shows up on page one. Set up a free StepRep account for your name. StepRep is an online reputation manager that does a better job than Google Alerts does of fetching your name on the web.
Go to Knowem.com. This is an online portal that goes out and registers your name at what they consider the top 150 social media sites.
Start doing things online to boost your online reputation. Blogging is best. You want Google to bring your given name to the top of search in its best light, so when anyone is searching for you they see good things. Bury bad stuff 20 deep. This is a combination
of online reputation management and search engine optimization for your brand: YOU.
Get a Wordpress blog with your name in the address bar. Set up a Ping.fm account and blast your blog/Tweets to all your social media.
Buy a domain name that is or is close to your real name and plaster your name in the HTML header so it comes up in search.
Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding
link and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity