Thursday, Sep 21st

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Wearing Your Sunday’s Best : How to Take Control of Your Online Reputation

girlswhisper

When I was a young, my mother would always squeeze me by my shoulders before I ran like a bat out of hell to the playground. She would say (with her thick Nigerian-accent) “Make sure that when you are out there, you remember that you are wearing your Sunday’s Best.”

And although my mother’s metaphor would go in one ear and out the other as soon as I set my foot and rascally intentions on the yard pavement, now, thanks to the Internet, her words ring truer than ever.

With the permeation of social networking, the Internet has become a playground for personal identities and a “hard-to-erase” archive of daily activities and sentiments.

Simultaneously, the Internet also has become a goldmine for employers, potential associates, old friends, and (unfortunately) stalkerazzies looking to formulate an idea of who you are and your reputation.

While the use of the Internet as a digital background check and personality review could prove beneficial for some (tagged snapshots of you on Flicker helping out at a local charity  - your online reputation glows), it could be problematic for others (tagged snapshots of you with your head and a bottle of tequila slumped on a coffee table - your online reputation blows).

 

You’re unsure if what you’re wearing is suitable

The first step to wearing your Sunday’s Best online is to see what information is available about you.

Begin by searching for your name on engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. If you’re name is common, add qualifiers like your town, city, state or the name of someone close to you.

Set up an RSS feed or news alert to continuously monitor what’s being said about you.

You discover that you’re way over-dressed

In your research, you may find that your online presence is unflattering and paints a negative portrayal of you. If it’s a few minor unfavorable comments, news items or images, try to get in touch with the person who posted them and request a removal.

If your online reputation is in a dire situation, there are companies like Reputation.com and Integrity Defenders that can help you bury your bad rap for a fee.

You discover that you’re way under-dressed

You’ve researched yourself and have come up with a defunct Twitter profile that you even forgot that you had. What next?

Begin by building up your social profiles on public sites like Twitter, YouTube, Flicker, Facebook user Groups and LinkedIn (especially for job-seekers).

Start commenting on web sites that get tons of traffic like the Huffington Post, The Examiner and YouTube.  This will help build your online presence and social equity. Find niche forums that you can participate in on an ongoing basis, and schedule time in your day to engage online!

Note that wearing your Sunday’s Best doesn’t mean that you won’t get clumsy and careless, and unknowingly get a bit messy every now and then. The key is to know how to take control.


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