You’ve probably had people tell you a couple times that “if you respect yourself, others will respect you too.” Well, let’s just say, that’s not exactly true. Even if you have self-respect and great self-esteem, they might help you out in a face-to-face meeting with a potential investor, client or employer, but what really decides if the meeting is even going to happen in the first place are often the results that come up once they type your name into Google. Too few results, negative reviews, unflattering pictures or lawsuits against you can all come back and considerably harm your chances of getting that meeting. And the more important the meeting is, the more intense the online research they’ll probably do.
When it comes to online reputation and personal branding, it doesn’t matter how you relate to yourself, rather, it’s all about what others think about you and how you appear to others. You are judged by search results. It doesn’t matter if they’re true or not, old or new, whoever is looking you up doesn’t know the difference. Whatever they see on page one of Google is who you are. This is your online reputation. If you want to leave a million-dollar impression, and look at least as good as you really are, start branding yourself.
What does online personal reputation actually mean?
There’s a bit of confusion about what “online reputation management” actually means. Most people identify this service with the monitoring of social networks and suppressing negative search results. Actually, it covers a much wider range of services, which can be divided into two main groups.
Proactive online reputation management – Consistently building up your online reputation is done by distributing content on relevant social media profiles, by having a personal blog, and by writing articles. Reputation management for individuals creates personal branding, and protects your reputation in the event that someone posts a negative comment about you. The process of building up your online reputation is made up of three stages:
- Editing and updating existing content, whether on your website or on your social network profiles.
- Creating new internet assets to “thicken up” the positive content up on search engines.
- Constantly monitoring and updating positive and relevant content that portrays you well, emphasizes your achievements and distinguishes you from your competitors. This way, it becomes harder to harm your reputation in the future.
Reactive online reputation management – emergency crisis management when your name is already linked to unwanted negative references: results that are irrelevant to your professional life, negative reviews, pictures you’d really rather not have everyone see, lawsuits, libel and so on. In such a case, the same actions as above have to be taken, but in a much more intensive way, so that the negative results are pushed off the first page as quickly as possible.
“87% of consumers connect the CEO’s personal reputation to the reputation of the company” (Hill & Knowlton)
What reputation management services are out there?
Here are some of the services that can do the job:
- Building up profiles and other web domains in order to have a perfect page of results when someone searches for your name.
- Constant monitoring and adding positive content on regular basis.
- Bumping down irrelevant results, negative content, unwanted pictures or posts, such as references to lawsuits against you on websites like ripoffreport.com.
- Differentiating between you and someone with your name who has a negative online image.
- Removing defamation, malicious content, and lies which can be considered libel and defamation, whose only purpose is to harm your reputation. Permanently removing the content is dealt with by legal professionals.
- Minimizing damage done by unwanted media coverage, or by PR blunders.
- Taking control of privacy settings on social network profiles, leading to less irrelevant content being picked up by search engines.
Why do I even need any of this?
So, how can reputation management help me?
- Personal prestige and professional boost.
- Create a sense of trustworthiness among your clients, professional colleagues, investors, potential employers and competitors.
- Achieve market positioning as a brand name, and as an influential and reputable industry player.
- Emphasis of your achievements throughout your career.
- People who search for you will want to do more business with you.
- Improve your chances of finding employment, including your dream job.
- Makes you stand out compared to colleagues and competitors.
Build yourself a defensive shield that won’t allow negative results to make it to the first page of search results, and will thus protect your reputation in the future.
“86% of HR managers agree that good online reputation increases a candidate’s chance of being recruited” (PC Recruiter)
Who needs these services?
Personal reputation management and personal branding is suited to the following groups:
- Professional Athletes
- CEOs and top managers
- Freelancers and employees looking to position themselves as specialists
- Anyone harmed online by negative campaign