Managing your online reputation

It is becoming more and more common to ‘Google’ someone before meeting them for the first time – whether for a potential business meeting, to interview them or to be interviewed by them. If someone Googles you now or in the future what will be revealed?

I’ve just given an interview to a journalist who is writing an article about the possible uses of Facebook by certain professional advisers. During our conversation I outlined what I saw as some of the benefits and also the dangers of professional advisers playing around on Facebook. And I explained why my comments apply equally to other forms of online networking sites.

Possibly the 3 most well known and useful such platforms to professional advisers are:

  • LinkedIn – currently largely used by corporate job hunters, those who are headhunting them and those who know them;
  • Ecademy – mainly small businesses and corporate refugees who have set up their own business/consultancy; [Edited: Sadly Ecademy closed down in 2012]
  • Facebook – mainly used for sharing how much fun you’re having in your life. So this is seen as the main ‘social’ networking site.

Until September 2006, Facebook was only available to ‘college students’ but as they graduated so they wanted to continue to CONNECT with the people they knew. And everyone they knew and wanted to stay in touch with was on Facebook. It is now becoming ubiquitous but sadly a lot of people who are experimenting with Facebook or just playing around may be creating problems for themselves down the line.

I titled this blog ‘Managing your online reputation’ for a reason. These days Google is recording history in real time. Everything we post online is there for the future and can be found by Google and the other search engines. That means that when someone Googles our name – before meeting us, interviewing us or being interviewed by us, they can find out:

  • What we’ve said and written;
  • What we like/dislike;
  • What other people have said about us (good or bad);
  • Who we’re associated with and what other people have said about them (good or bad);
  • Where we’ve been and what we’ve done and who we were with;
  • And so on.

Thomas Power, the founder of Ecademy explains that the online networking sites are just like online magazines. Our profiles on the sites are just like adverts in a magazine. We’d always be careful about the impression we gave in an advert – so we should be careful about the impression we give with our profiles. And that presents an interesting challenge for ambitious professionals. On the one hand we want to control what Google finds when people look for us online. On the other hand we want to secure new profitable referral and work opportunities for our interactions on these sites.

If you just create a simple, professional profile on these sites, as your online advert, you will find it about as successful as waving your business card around in a dark room. No one will find your profile unless you shine a torch on it. You do that by interacting on the networking site, commenting on blogs, asking and answering questions, creating your own blogs, postings on the Facebook wall, joining and contributing to clubs and groups. Being seen to be a valuable person online. And this takes time.

Initially it’s best though to take it slowly. Join. Watch. Dip a toe in the water.Explore. Contribute. Help others. All this before you ask for help yourself. And all this whilst keeping in mind the need to manage your online reputation.

Incidentally – why had the journalist contacted me to talk about this topic? Because the editor of her magazine had seen my previous postings on the subject and was aware that I had established a number of groups on Facebook. My online reputation as a writer and speaker on this and related subjects for ambitious professionals is growing. Why? Because I’m managing it. At least as well as I can.

I’ll return to this theme in a future posting on this blog. In the mean time I’d welcome feedback and thoughts about what I’ve posted above.

Here’s a link to my previous blogs about uses of Facebook by professional advisers.

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By |2007-10-19T10:40:53+00:00October 19th, 2007|Career development, Facebook, No longer current, Social Media, Speaking|

About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.

3 Comments

  1. Angela 21st October 2007 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    “”What other people have said about us (good or bad)”” … might not some might be tempted to use an alias and sing their own praises?

  2. Angela 21st October 2007 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    I do check up on new clients (especially men, for personal safety reasons) & I not only Google the name but also the email address – and this recently came up trumps by leading me to a blog with key information that my customer had decided not to tell me.

  3. write a resume 28th August 2009 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Amazing post. It had never occurred to me that there were so many things out there to keep track of, and so many places where you could keep track of them. That’s a full-time job in itself. What this means is that the web has completely changed things, in terms of how business can and should be conducted. One of the more insightful things you say, for instance, is that if you aren’t responsive enough to your customers, you will fold pretty quickly. As odd as it may seem, that’s a relatively new aspect of the commercial world in general, and one brought about by the fact that the internet’s responsiveness has spoiled us to instant service. But finally, what all of this means is that business schools really need to re-vamp their programs. Having graduated only two years ago with a degree in marketing, I can attest to the fact that the kinds of considerations you’ve brought up here — the real avenues of marketing in the twenty-first century, are being largely ignored.

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