I know it’s an old phrase – right now people are talking about you, your brands, your products etc etc blah blah.
But what if they really are talking about you? I mean, you, the person reading this right now? More to the point, what if people are looking for information about you? To quote one of my father’s favourite phrases, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.*
I’ve written before about how we all need to be careful about what we share. If your online reputation means anything to you – and to some people, it’s critically important – then you’ll want to make sure what other people can see only improves that reputation.
Let’s start with LinkedIn. I used to think of it merely as an online CV system, one that you updated and then forgot about. It wasn’t until I went freelance that I realised how incredibly useful it is as a professional resource, and I’ve won business off the back of it since. I need to start exploring LinkedIn more – for example, getting involved in their Q&As – but my experience really opened my eyes to how important it is.
You could probably add other ‘pro’ systems to this, such as Ecademy and Plaxo. I’ve got an account on Plaxo but haven’t used it. Thinking about it, this is probably a bad thing. If I want to appear truly professional, I should either update it or remove it. Hmmmmm…
But people don’t only look for you on LinkedIn. Type your name into Google, now. Are any of those hits about you? If so, are they ‘good’ hits, that you’d be proud of? Ideally all of them should be. Or is any of it about someone else with your name, but because you don’t have enough presence online, they come up first?
These are questions you need to think about if your reputation is important to your profession.
I’m a member of the team at De Leon that practices personal reputation management, and the work so far has been fascinating.
Take the example of someone working for a major financial institution, who’s paid huge sums of money to win even more huge sums of money for the company. In their case they’ll want every possible competitive advantage so that a search for their name covers all the bases – good pictures, good videos, preferably all hung off their own website under their own name.
Alternatively, consider the self-employed individual – like me for instance – who needs as much exposure as possible to make the business work. In my case I’m fairly slack about this (if you check out my Facebook profile you’ll see a photo of me in a blonde wig, schoolboy uniform and belly-dancing skirt playing the bass guitar) but some people with real jobs – lawyers, accountants, doctors etc – might really need to make sure everything is right.
This is where my work at De Leon comes in.We’re packaging the work that goes into creating online profiles, so that they’re a neat set of processes that make sure we don’t forget anything, and we cover everything. I’m also interviewing the clients to tease out what their ‘brand’ should be – how they want to position themselves, what messages they want to put out, and so on. In this way we build up, maintain and, importantly, protect that person’s ‘brand’ online.
Is this a pitch for De Leon? Quite possibly. It’s my blog and I can do what I like with it. I’ve written about other companies of interest in the past, the difference is I happen to be on the De Leon team.
So if you find personal reputation management in any way interesting, pop over to De Leon and take a look. If it’s something you might want to go ahead with, then you never know, we could be working together before long. Then you’ll get to see how little I actually resemble my beautiful, clean, trendy avatar…
* Mind you, he’s also fond of saying “There’s light at the end of the tunnel – or is it an oncoming train?” It’s probably fair to say he’s not an optimist.