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Online Reputation Management 201

While many companies pay attention to their online reputation – what comes up when people search for the company by name – they often fail to check out the online reputation of their employees. I know that some may feel that is an invasion of privacy, but in this day and age where people want to know who they are doing business with, it is not uncommon to “Google” someone to find out more about them.

Recently I did a Google search to find out about a prospective business partner, and what I found could potentially get the employee fired, and certainly would have precluded me from hiring them. I am not going to link to it for sensational value, or even get involved, but lets just say in short order I now know what this persons (should I dare use the word romantic?) desires are in graphic detail. I don’t think I could talk to this person without thinking about what I read on their MySpace page. Or even worse, what if it wasn’t really them? Perhaps it was just someone with the same name? Either way it’s an online reputation management concern.

Anyhow, I understand that everyone has a right to live life however they want to, but in the professional world, employees need to realize that having certain personal information can reflect negatively on them in the work place – especially if they mention their employer in the same venue.

So my question to you is “what do people find when they Google you?” I recommend trying it yourself and if you don’t like what you see, you might need to invest some time (or money) into getting it fixed through online reputation management.


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10 Responses to “Online Reputation Management 201”

  • Good point. I think I’ll try it.

  • I do this periodically and frankly it is just good policy if your looking to build a name for yourself in the online and offline business community. These days the two worlds are merging so it is a good idea to keep on top of things by checking yourself before problems arise or to advert problems.

    Although I do want to say that a certain amount of transparency is needed so that folks know that you are a real human being they are dealing with online and not a bot.

  • VERY insightful post, Anthony! I think this also ties into another post I read a couple weeks on Social Media Today (http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/79694) about censoring ourselves online. When searching for your potential *business* associate, you came across his *personal* information. In an age when we are merging our personal and professional lives together in this new(ish) medium, it’s important to be mindful of who may be looking at the content we generate.

    So, follow-up questions: Do we simply need to change privacy settings for sites that have personal information? Do we need to create two separate online identities (one “personal”, one “professional”)? Do we avoid all mention online of our employer or related workplace topics? Or do we simply add disclaimers to every personal site, stating that our opinions are our own and have no bearing on any personal or professional affiliations?

  • This is a vital step for anyone in today’s workplace, and unfortunately, I don’t think many realized it until it was too late.

    There are several examples of it on the web: people losing a job because of a frustrated tweet, the Pork Board fiasco, the battle between Digg and the movie industry, and the list really does go on.

    In fact, experts are now suggesting that graduates build and mold their online reputations long before graduation. You might be interested in hearing the lecture Lee Hopkins has put out recently on LeeHopkins.net. Here’s one example here: http://cli.gs/SrjjB1

    In reality, I think it’s something they should start to teach in high school, or at least make students aware that what’s done is done, but what goes on the Internet lives forever.

    Angie Haggstrom
    Freedom Freelance

  • Actually the point that got me was your comment about “What if it wasn’t really them?”

    I have a common name – Beth Robinson – and there are others who have even more common ones. I can proactively provide links to my sites in my contact info and make sure that they are tied together, even the personal ones. I could emphasize a business name instead.

    But part of the point of searching for someone is to see if there’s something that they are not telling you. If, for example, a woman with the same name decided to go into adult entertainment and becomes popular, then there’s very little I can do except hope my potential business partner or employer is doing their due diligence, not just taking a quick glance at Google.

    Or do you have other suggestions?

  • If you’re not happy with the results when you google yourself, there are two options: 1) clean up, and 2) bury.

    I blogged what was called “The mother of all resources and tips to manage your online reputation”, which will tell you how to do both those things:

    190+ Resources and Tips To Help Manage Your Reputation Online

  • I agree wholeheartedly. I know all too well of this problem sharing a name with an unsavory character. I would hope that the person doing the searching in the first place would use some common sense to deduce that that the two individuals are not related. My concern is that is not being done and the snippet from the SERP is being used.

  • oldschool:

    @ Joe – I guess I should have mentioned a great way to keep tabs on what is said about you is by using Google alerts. It saves you from having to check.

    @ Jon – You raise some excellent questions. Rather than responding to them all, I will write a new blog post with my take on your questions. Thanks for the input.

    @ Angie – It’s good to know that colleges are preparing students for the real world. These things didn’t exist when I went to school 🙂

    @ Beth – Funny you should mention that. When my wife and I were dating I Googled her name and found an adult site with her name (also a fairly common name). I figured marrying her would cure that… and it did 🙂

    @ Jacob – Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

    @ Daniel – I know it can be a challenge. If it were a problem I think I would want to be up front in whatever situation and let the right people know up front that I was not that same person in question.

  • Anthony LOL that should have been a no brainer here. Talk about a DUH moment lmao.

  • Totally agree that personal online reputation is important. I’ve heard all the horror stories about employers checking out their potential employees online before they hire them, so I regularly search for my own name using http://www.yasni.com to see what others would find.

    It is the largest people search engine in the world and I’d recommend it for anyone wanting to manage their personal online rep.

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