You are being Googled and judged on the results. Every time you apply for a job, every time you make a connection on Linked In, every time you go in for an interview, every time you meet someone at a cocktail party. What they find and do not find online will shape the path of your career for years to come. A loose-lipped Twitter post can cost you a “fatty paycheck” from a Fortune 500 company. An Instagram photo can end your career. A Facebook post about your boss can send you to the unemployment line. And let’s just skip the politicians.
By now, you are all well versed in what not to do on the Internet. If you are hunting for a new job you are probably obsessing on every tweet and every Facebook post, fretting to yourself, will this tweet make me the next Cisco Fatty? Calm down. Remember that reputation management is a balance between suppressing negatives and promoting a positive image. Instead of worrying about what not to do, focus on crafting a positive image online.
Claim Your Social Presence
When a prospective employer Googles a prospective hire they expect to find something – a Facebook profile, a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter profile … Something. Unless you are Jason Bourne, you have some kind of online footprint. If that footprint is missing you look like a person with something to hide, or, even worse, someone who is deeply out of touch with the modern world. If you want to manage your reputation and personal brand online the first step is to have a social presence online.
Staking out ground on social networks allows you to claim and build your personal brand. A robust, well-crafted social presence is a great way to sell your skills to the world.
Make Friends With Your Privacy Settings
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google + all have great ways to control your privacy online. Familiarize yourself with these settings and pick the right ones for your life. Do not just settle for the default options and assume that your privacy is protected.
Here is a quick reference list:
You will notice that Twitter is missing from this list. Privacy on Twitter often comes down to an option of either anonymity (tweeting under a nom de plume) or protecting your Twitter Account (this means that only people who follow you can see your Tweets). If you have a public Twitter account that can be linked back to your real name the best advice is to tweet like the whole world is watching … They are.
The time you pick your privacy settings is also a great time to pick your friends, or at least which social network your friends join. Not every coworker needs to be your Facebook friend. Not every family member needs to be a LinkedIn connection. Keeping your professional connections on LinkedIn while keeping your personal connections on Facebook is a great way to build boundaries and maintain a private life.
The key to reputation management online is to remember that the world is watching and judging you. You can fear this moment, or you can use social channels like LinkedIn and Facebook to shove your best foot forward and shine.
The choice is up to you.