A few years ago, I Googled my name to see what would pop up. Under my business website and a couple of my blog posts, I spotted a listing where I was offering to sell my boat.
What was most disturbing is that not only was I not selling a boat… I didn’t own a boat.
That’s when I understood the need to monitor and protect my online reputation. The more I researched the topic, the more I realized how critical it is to keep an eye on what is said about us online.
Potential employers will always look you up online, and if they don’t like what they see, you won’t even be invited for an interview. Many college admission officers are using a similar approach to weed out applicants—even if these applicants have impressive SAT scores.
Your online reputation isn’t only important when switching jobs or applying to college; employers have terminated people whose negative online reputation is perceived as a liability for the entire organization.
In a few words, your online reputation is an essential component of your personal brand.
When you protect your online reputation, you safeguard your brand.
And a successful career can only be cemented on a rock-solid brand foundation.
Here are 5 simple tools you can use to monitor and protect your online reputation starting TODAY.
Do a simple Google search.
This is the simplest step you can immediately take to safeguard your reputation, and you must do it often—ideally once a month.
If one of the search results is damaging to your reputation, contact the site directly to have the content removed. You can usually reach the right people by clicking on their privacy or contact page.
There are no guarantees these sites will remove the content, but you must try.
No luck getting the negative content removed? Create new content that will be likely to show first on search results. You could share articles on Blogger and Google Plus, or create an SEO-friendly LinkedIn profile.
Set a comprehensive Google alert.
This will notify you of stories, as they happen, associated with your name. Just go to Google Alerts and follow the instructions.
At a minimum, you should set up an alert for your full name. If you are a business owner, set an alert for the name of your business as well.
Use tools such as pipl.com or whitepages.com to do a thorough search on your name.
Your phone number, address, and date of birth might be readily available on the Internet, which makes it harder to protect your identity.
These websites conglomerate the information from thousands of other sites, and they usually provide a link for you to contact each one of these sites directly.
Contacting each site and requesting to remove your information will take some time, but it’s worth it.
Don’t allow anyone to tag you in pictures that might damage your reputation.
This doesn’t only refer to embarrassing pictures of you. Sometimes well-meaning friends decide to tag you on a picture of them engaging in behavior that should have been kept private.
Immediately ask whoever tagged you to remove the tag, and remind him or her to not tag you again.
Take a few minutes to review your privacy settings on your social media pages to ensure that your personal information be shared only with those who are meant to see it.
Think twice before you post.
I always remind my clients, “What you share online stays online—forever.”
Before hitting the “share” or “comment” button, ask yourself whether your action is aligned with your brand.
As a rule of thumb, never post on social media when you’re angry, and regardless of your privacy settings, avoid commenting about work.
To keep your brand strong, always spell check your comments and posts. Keep in mind that you post on the Internet is your face to the world.
Question for you: What do you do to protect your online reputation? What else do you to strengthen your personal brand?
Complimentary personal branding training: 10 Mistakes that Keep You Overworked and Underpaid. Access the training HERE.
Cloris Kylie, MBA, is a performance coach, seminar leader, author, and radio show host. Her background in engineering, marketing, and management allows her to create effective, easy-to-implement strategies for her coaching clients and audiences. She offers coaching and training in personal branding, communications, public speaking, social media platforms, Internet marketing, and career development.
Cloris has over 10 years of experience helping professionals reach their goals, and has completed specialized training in personal branding, leadership, public speaking, positive power and influence, negotiation, and communications.
An advanced Toastmaster and sought-after lecturer, Cloris has been featured on various television and radio shows, and her articles have been published on personal development and business websites with millions of followers.
Radio show: http://blogtalkradio.com/magnificent