Colin hung up the phone and just stood there shaking his head. He had pulled strings to get his son, Perry, an interview at one of the most well-respected accounting firms in the country. With an MBA from a top tier business school and his connections, Perry should have been a shoo-in. Then he got the call. Before the offer letter went out, the hiring manager googled his son’s name and found pictures of him doing bong hits at a college party. These were pictures from five years earlier that someone else had posted and tagged. Nevertheless, Colin’s son’s reputation had taken a major hit and the offer was withdrawn – game over.
We live in the Age of Transparency. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can get a snapshot of you with a simple web search. Your managers, peers, prospects, and people you meet are checking you out online. Savvy prospects and customers are doing research on you before meetings. What are they finding when they google you? Your online presence plays a crucial role in building your reputation. If you ignore it, it will be at your own peril. You must control what people find when they search for you on the web.
In the rest of the article, there were some useful ideas, which I’ve discussed before, regarding protection of your online personal brand. To summarize, there are 3 basic steps we all need to take:
1. Awareness – we need to know 2 things: a. We all may have an online presence, whether we’ve created it, or someone else had.
b. We can “influence” Google’s search results.
2. Activity – we need to be active online, so when people are Googling us, they find what we want them to find.
3. Monitoring – make it a habit to monitor the online world, and make sure our reputation is spotless. After all, the only thing we take with us out of this world, is our reputation.
Google your name in quotation
marks. It is important to see what comes up on the first page. The first page of a google search result is precious real-estate. If you don’t like what you see set goals to get more positive links about YOU on page one through blogging, articles, contributions, and social medial profiles.
There is a lot of room for experimentation, so use your talents and skills to communicate in your own unique way. Second, this experimentation has led to collaboration, and smart people are sharing information all the time.
Make sure you make time every day for “learning”. Look over sites and information to keep up with the developments in social media.
Develop Content. Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge, collaborate with others and be seen as an expert in your field. Some people recommend blogging 3 times a week. Other avenues could be whitepapers, audio recordings, slide presentations and videos.
Build Relationships. Building and maintaining relationships has never been easier. Those of us in sales and marketing have always known the value of relationship building (People Buy YOU), but now everyone needs to make it a priority. Make sure you have complete profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Twitter is a fantastic source of information, and an excellent place to learn. Social media is an excellent way to build relationships, but don’t forget the value of face to face meetings, phone calls, hand written notes, and emails. It’s good to focus on important clients and influencers, but leave room for the “accidental” connections. Social media networking can be serendipitous, you never know which person may lead you to a new connection or client.
Social media alerts (Google or Social Mention) are a great (and FREE!!) way to monitor your name and/or industry. If something important happens in your industry you’ll receive an email, bringing it to your attention. Now that you know about it, you can comment. If someone says something positive, a thank you goes a long way. If there is negative chatter starting up around your name or company, alerts keep you on top of it and you can jump in and take care of things quickly. Addictomatic is a fantastic site for big picture monitoring.