What do you have if you don’t have your reputation? Not much, I say. We all know it: “Your reputation precedes you.” Have you ever Googled a job candidate? Your boss? Your new business partner? Have you Googled yourself, lately? If you haven’t, someone else has. Go ahead, Google your self now, then come back.
Are you surprised at what you found at the top of the search? How about the first five items? Did you expect what you found? I want to scare you a little first then show you some ways to protect your online reputation.
Google is a reputation management system. Do you “own” your online reputation? If you don’t, claim it while you can. The consequences can be ugly. It can take a little work, but what do you have if you don’t have a reputation.
Glenn Tilton is the CEO of United Airlines. Mr. Tilton didn’t claim GlennTilton.com, so now the pilot’s union has it. Take a look. It isn’t pretty. I will bet, Mr. Tilton wishes he owned GlennTilton.com. Are you in a position where something like this could happen to you? Could something like this happen to you in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? You bet it could. It is very cheap to buy a domain name and hold it. Consider it insurance – very cheap insurance.
So, I’ve convinced you to buy your own domain name. Great. Now what about your LinkedIn profile or your MySpace page? I suggest you take a look. What if there is someone out there who uses the same name as you, has a less than stellar reputation, and is ranked highly by Google? Their profile will show up whenever anyone searches for your name. You can prevent this by staking your claim to your name on all the popular social networks. This will take some time, but when you go to your next job interview, you’ll be glad you did. Here is a GREAT tool to claim your profile on social networks.
One last suggestion… If Google doesn’t have you or your favored profile at the top of the search list, you can move yourself up the Google search by making your new website a blog. With regular posts, you can move your website to the top of the Google search. Help people find what you want them to find. It takes a little time and effort, but you can control your online reputation.
UPDATE: Ping.fm is a great way to manage all of your online networks. Many more networks are represented there.
UPDATE 2: Be sure to check out Rex Whisman’s post on this very subject.