Your online reputation can make or break you not only personally but professionally. Thanks to the ease of use of search engines and social media, your triumphs, successes, and failures are in the public eye.
Can you imagine hiring someone for a job without trying to find out what they’re up to in the public search results first? You’d be silly to go on a date with someone without looking them up on Facebook and seeing who their mutual friends are (and then asking the mutual friends what they think of the person).
Therefore, it’s pretty important to have content online that reflects exactly what you want the public to know. How can you do that, presenting a positive light to anyone who wants to see you?
Below are four great foundations to minimally establish your presence online so that people will only see the best you that you want to communicate to the world.
Naturally, LinkedIn is the obvious choice. A professional network at its core, LinkedIn has nearly 400 million members and is a trusted site when it comes to visibility in search.
Google a name, and chances are, their LinkedIn profile page is one of the first three results. It’s a great tool for someone to present their professional selves. This resume of sorts gives people the ability to see who you are and what you’re about. It also lets people see how well connected you are. Networking is a big core of LinkedIn! It is never a bad thing to grow that network as it opens opportunities for you.
Related Article: Anatomy of a Killer LinkedIn for Business Page
Your Personal Portfolio or Presence
Who owns your firstnamelastname.com?
Why not you?
Control your online presence by creating a page that reflects what you are about, your personal interests, your professional pursuits, and whatever else. Perhaps you can just create a blog. Perhaps you’re just using it for email. It certainly looks more professional to have email@example.com as your email address over firstname.lastname@example.org (because, you know, firstlast@ was already taken).
Personally, I would recommend making a basic web presence and not just using a domain for email, especially in those instances when you may actually have something to hide.
Having websites that portray yourself in a positive light are in your best interest to maintain. That way, when someone visits firstlast.com, they’re actually learning good things about you, content you want people to see. Hopefully, you’ll have played your marketing cards right, ensuring this website outranks anything that you are looking to push down in the search engine results.
Recently launched community platform Wiselike positions itself as a “knowledge sharing” platform, enabling everyone to host their own question and answer page so that you can answer things that speak to your experience.
If you're familiar with the online concept of AMA (ask me anything), Wiselike is exactly that, enabling everyone to host their own AMA page so that they can continually grow their personal and professional footprint and to perhaps even answer questions they find themselves answering on a regular basis. Here’s my page.
The beauty of Wiselike is that you also have complete control over your presence.
Questions can be answered either by existing accounts on the network or by anonymous users, but don’t worry—questions are moderated for appropriateness, and if you don’t answer a question, the only person who would know that is you!
The question is not made public until you answer it. You can open the world to questions, or if you’re adventurous, ask yourself questions that you know you want the world to know the answers to, thereby growing your online footprint, and naturally, boosting your online reputation.
Related Article: Extra, Extra: How to Tap Your Local Press For Added Exposure
This may sound silly and maybe even impossible (I know you're thinking, "how can I get featured in the media?") but I say this after having worked in hyperlocal media.
Small papers clamor for stories. We’re not talking about your large daily newspaper where it’s hard to get the attention of a local reporter. No, we’re talking about the super hyperlocal papers that serve your community and your local borough or neighborhood. Public interest stories are always great for reporters, especially when it benefits the locals.
For example, you could invite the paper to profile your charitable initiative. You can invite the paper to talk about your entrepreneurial pursuit. You can tell the company about the successes of your business. Give them a noteworthy angle and chase after it.
Don’t push too hard; build relationships too. Reporters get contacted out of the blue all the time, but it’s so much better to approach them respectfully and appropriately. After you're published, you even get a secondary benefit: not only does it look good when someone is looking you up, you may actually get more clients out of this tactic.
These four suggestions are just some startng points. From here, the sky's the limit.
After all, online presences are growing each and every day. Whether you just build out the standard social media presence (thinking your typical Facebook and Twitter pages) or even going off the beaten path to more niche sites (Google+, we’re talking about you!), diversifying your visibility is an important part of who you are and how you get from zero to online hero.