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Protecting your online reputation, Part III

When did you last update your online professional information?

In the first two (Part I , Part II) of our three-part series on Protecting Your Online Reputation, we discussed how to-

  • Remove unwanted content from the Internet, and
  • Avoid posting information that could damage your name.

This final installment is focused on how to PROACTIVELY improve your online reputation.

Updating and improving your online profiles

When did you last update your online professional information? Any time you report a job promotion, new publication, or professional / community recognition, you gain a competitive advantage over those who don’t take the time to do so. Another major benefit: the more you post on social media, the easier it will be to ‘crowd out’ and lower the rank of any negative online information about you or your company.

  • Revisit your LinkedIn and/or CareerBuilder profiles. Understand that they should integrate a crisp presentation of your professional credentials with personal information describing your values and passions. Is your LinkedIn profile written in first person? Unlike resumes and bios, your LinkedInprofile is best written in the first person to create a friendly, approachable impression.
  • Other commonly accessed profiles are on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Each has its own preferred style.
  • Write each profile carefully, highlighting the professional expertise, personal , attributes, and accomplishments you’d like others to acknowledge you for. Always write three or four drafts before posting to ensure that your profiles are well written, with absolutely NO typos, grammatical, or punctuation errors.
  • Take advantage of a new Google tool at google.com/profiles that lets you create profiles and determine what appears first when someone conducts a search about you. It lets you put your best foot forward by linking your name to reputation-enhancing URLs, photos, and other information.

Using social media to connect with other professionals

  • Are you using professional social media to actively expand your network? Do you post links to information that is of value to your contacts? Do you regularly contribute carefully considered insights as a member of online professional group discussions? Bottom line: are you cultivating a reputation as a ‘thought leader’ who is willing to help others develop professionally?
  • Have you solicited LinkedIn recommendations? You may have friends who have offered to write you a glowing recommendation but who don’t follow through for lack of time. One simple solution: provide them with an outline of the main points you’d like them to include in their recommendation. Then carefully proof whatever they write before posting.
  • Consider launching a blog with social media links. Writing a blog is indispensable for anyone who wants to establish a reputation as a subject matter expert. Let OWDT give you a memorably beautiful, website with smooth navigation to enhance your brand and professional visibility. If you have a limited budget, you can use a free template to build a simple website with blog functionality.

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Some final suggestions

  • By all means, search for online accounts you no longer use. There may be potentially damaging personal information there that you long ago forgot about. Delete it before the site changes its privacy policies.
  • Buy the domain names for yourself and your children before others do, especially if you can get the .com and .net versions.
  • To view your online ‘information mosaic,’ check out one or more of the following major people databases: Spokeo.com, 123people.com, MyLife.com, ussearch.com, whitepages.com, and PeopleFinder.com. You’ll then be able to see what these data bases say about your home address, age, income, phone number, and a plethora of other information.
  • If you don’t like what you see, Reputation.com, charges $99 a year for its MyPrivacy service to identify, remove, and keep your information off the Web and out of commercial databases. It also offers technology to stop others from collecting your information using cookies, to help prevent more data from getting out.

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