The story of a teenager who became Britain’s first youth police and crime commissioner (PCC) but had to resign because of “inappropriate” tweets on her personal Twitter account is one people should take heed of.
Although Paris Brown later apologised for her “stupid, immoral tweets” she also said: “I don’t think they should shape my future and my career and how I’m going to represent young people.”
It was too late for her now, and to paraphrase Warren Buffet, the world’s richest man, it takes 20 years to build an online reputation and only a tweet to ruin it.
Think about it – someone is probably searching the web for you now or at least recently. Have you any idea what they are reading about you? And what if your online persona isn’t an accurate reflection of what you’re like, how can you change things? It’s time to take your online reputation into your own hands because now it’s more important than ever.
First impressions matter
If you’ve never then it’s time you do because your old classmates, co-workers and potential employers are constantly searching the web to find out more about you and what you’ve been up to. When it comes to potential employers looking to hire you, it’s very important they find information that is representative of who you are.
So, whether you’re on a job hunt or are looking for temporary projects if you’re a freelancer, you need to be aware of the impact of your online reputation. Even if a Google search returns some bad results, there are still some tricks you can use to clean up your image online.
As well as Googling yourself, you also need to work out what aspects of your various social media profiles are accessible by the public and if you’re happy with what you say about you.
Cleaning up the mess
Now that you’ve seen what others see when they search for your name online, let’s see how you can get rid of whatever it is that you don’t like or you feel ashamed of. Even if you had nothing to do with some of the bad stuff that links to your name (maybe someone created a fake account to troll or defame you), you need to take matters into your own hands.
You can’t skip this step
because you probably won’t be given the opportunity to explain the bad stuff to your potential employer over the phone. If they don’t like what they find, you’ll probably never hear from them.
First, work out which content you control and if you don’t like it, remove it. Next, ask site owners to remove any mentions of you you’re not happy with – this will often bear fruit.
If you can’t get rid of all the bad stuff, start creating new positive content. By regularly publishing interesting and useful content with your name on it, you can push negative posting further down search engine result pages making it harder to find.
To get even better results, register your own domain then use it to showcase your portfolio and create a blog where you share interesting and useful content. There’s nothing like great content to get people talking about you and create the professional image you want for yourself.
Also create and post content to high profile sites such as YouTube and any social network you’re not on. Remember though, you need to register under your own name.
If you haven’t got time Brand-Yourself and Vizibility can manage your online reputation, although you do have to pay.
Don’t post it if you don’t want it made public
Now that you realise just how much work goes into removing the bad stuff, you might want to think twice before sharing content online or updating your social networks with statuses that you’re going to regret later on.
However, don’t feel you have to turn into a robot – you can still be yourself. Your online reputation should be an accurate picture of your personality so you can still expressing your opinions, you just need to be aware of the consequences.
Guest post written by Alex Gavril, a member of the Webfusion blogging team.