- Don’t post compromising photos on your Facebook. It should go without saying but also don’t tweet them or post them on Flickr or email them. You may think that only your recipient will see them. Think again.
- Don’t make hasty comments online forums or on other people’s blog posts. Although some online groups and forums let you edit your comments for a short time afterward (very few of them) once it’s up there , you can’t take it back. Sometimes there is no way to pull your foot out of your virtual mouth.
- Don’t try to confront an obviously intentional online attacker/detractor directly. If someone really wants to get at you,
anything you do might provoke him further. And the more he puts out there, the more people will see it, link to it and spread it around, and the higher it will go up in the search engine rankings.
- Don’t underestimate the number of people searching for you online. According to a Microsoft poll from 2010, 79% of recruiters and hiring managers in the US have used social networking sites and blog searches to screen out candidates. 7 out of 10 adults have searched for information about someone online.
- Don’t assume that everyone shares you sense of humor.
It’s not just that different people respond – and take offense — to different types of humor. You yourself may look back on something you thought was hilarious months or years ago and not find it funny anymore.
- Establish a presence on social networks. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular, and each serves a different
purpose. If you want to jump in with both feet, there are plenty of others to explore and engage in. And be sure to keep them all updated. Search engines favor more recent content.
- Start a blog, or two on personal or professional topics. Be sure to link between them and also link to your website and back. These are great backlink opportunties. Update them frequently with stories, tips or relevant news items. And make (carefully considered) comments on other blogs with topics similar to yours.
- Regularly monitor your online reputation. You can set up a Google alert to let you know whenever a new mention of you pops up online. And other (paid) services, like Radian6 offer more sophisticated tools to help you track and control what shows up.
- Try to get inaccurate information changed or removed. If someone says something about you that is misleading or just wrong – in a Facebook or blog post, for example – ask them nicely to correct their mistake or take the content down.
- Keep your social networks healthy. Make a conscious choice about which friend and connection requests you accept – and initiate. Your friends and their online presence can reflect on you. Parse and pare down your networks. While it may look impressive to have hundreds of LinkedIn connections and thousands of Facebook friends, when it comes to your online reputation, focus on quality over quantity.
- Remember the Internet never forgets. You can take the old frat party photos down but you can’t delete them from everywhere. You never know when nostalgia hits and an impelling an old friend to forward the pics to their pals at work, and so on. Assume that anything you ever post or email or tweet will live on somewhere, forever.
Excerpts reprinted with permission. Reputation.com, Inc. © 2011
See also Reputation Workbook
for more examples and information.