Friday, March 11, 2011

More on Profile Control

On Wednesday I wrote a simple piece about taking control of your online identity. It followed on from stuff earlier in the week but I really didn't expect too much reaction as I dashed it off quickly before a very full day of intense meetings... However, I got a long and thoughtful email from one reader who asked for more. I just hope the lesson is not that I should rattle off posts without thinking too deeply in future!

I got told, "...the first page of things that come up for me are a fair reflection on who I am and what I do so I shall keep working on getting the good stuff out there. The only problem I can forsee for myself is that people could start posting negative and detrimental articles and then I won't be able to do anything about it. What would be useful is a check list of things that we can all do to keep our public profiles up to date and secure..."

The BBC News warns of cases where a person's reputation has been harmed by something they'd rather not see broadcast on the Internet. But, for those who don't want to hire a reputation management company, here's a checklist:
  1. Enter your name (in "quotes") in Google and note the order of the results that appear: that's your prioritized list of sites to take control of.
  2. Have you registered your presence on the major networks? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube are perhaps the biggest and best known (and most important for your personal 'branding') but they're far from the only ones: last time I checked there were more than 700 Internet properties where you can register! The good news is that you don't have to be on more than a fraction of them; but you may want to consider registering your presence on, say, Foursquare even if you currently have no intention of using it ... It's the same principle as a business or product brand seeking to register to prevent others from 'cyber squatting.' There are plenty of alternatives, but target="_blank" is one tool that enables you to check the availability of your 'name' across many sites at once.
  3. I began writing many more tips, but the list was getting so long that even I wasn't prepared to keep scrolling down! So, instead, check out Dan Schawbel's Personal Branding Blog. He has made an industry out of advising people on this topic, and he's going to stay on top of it with current information in a way that I just can't!
The key point I want to make is to be intentional about your online presence: don't just let it happen, take control - do some research and put what you learn in to practice in a way that works for what you want to do.
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