Like it or not, the Internet and social media provide new avenues for both self-promotion and for malicious attacks. Even if you aren’t a celebrity or a politician, it’s important to realize online damage to your reputation is fairly easy to facilitate. Maybe someone else wants your job, maybe an old enemy is looking for revenge, or maybe you just have a few skeletons in the closet. Who knows!
10 Tips To Protect Your Digital ReputationWhatever the case may be, getting proactive about protecting your digital reputation is extremely important. Like a Lego castle, once a reputation is smashed it’s almost impossible to put it back together again.
1. Make Managing Your Digital Reputation A PriorityYou can either hire a company to manage your reputation for you or you can manage it yourself. Look at your Internet profile as a second self, the one you want everyone to know rather than your real self. Just as you use office etiquette in the workplace rather than football game demeanor, it’s time to separate your online reputation from the real you. There can be some parallels but your online reputation should say what you want it to say and no more. If you wouldn’t want a prospective boss asking you questions about it, it shouldn’t be online. Not familiar with computers, search, or social media? Get a pair of nerd glasses and get yourself online and in front of a computer. Learn about social media, online marketing, blogs, and personal branding. These are the new weapons in the workplace.
2. Be Paranoid About Your Own Computer(s)Set screensaver passwords to lock the system when it’s not in use. Set your security settings to stealth mode, use at least one firewall and limit your downloads to essential items from reputable sources.
3. Switch Your Operating SystemSwitch either to a Linux, Unix, or Apple operating system and stop using Windows.
4. Schedule Regular CleaningsManage your browser settings and dump your cookie and search history caches on a regular basis.
5. Don't Post Sensitive InformationUnderstand that really sensitive information doesn’t belong on a smartphone or a computer that ever hooks up to the Internet. Most professionals should have at least two computers: a secure stand-alone and a “public” machine. When transferring files stick to a one way flow of information (from the secure machine out but never in). It should go without saying but sensitive personal information never belongs on a work or employer’s machine.
6. Write It OutIf you really need to vent secrets about your private life into words, seriously consider doing so with a pen and paper and then burning it.
7. Set Up Free E-mail AccountsSegmenting your personal life from your work or career persona is a fantastic way to contain damage if it ever occurs. It also makes any spurious attacks much easier to trace. Use the most obvious combinations for your name and reserve them if they aren’t already taken. Make a list of these and check them every three months. Use four of them like this: The first is for friends and family. The second is for your financial self. The third is for business contacts and work. The fourth is for offers and whenever anyone not in the prior categories asks you for an e-mail address. Give each one a completely different set of passwords and security questions.
8. Structure Your Social Media Persona In The Same WayFacebook: family and friends. Twitter: work and career. Namechk will let you check and establish one user name or vanity name URL across a variety of social media channels.
9. Think About Starting A Website And/Or A BlogBlogs are great because they encourage dialog. Here you want to build the best you. This is where you market yourself and accumulate clout in your field of expertise. Make sure to link to reputable sources and make an effort to create content on a regular basis. Start posting on related sites in your field. Learn and use a little Search Engine Optimization. The purpose of all this work is to create an online reputation on the web that will pop up whenever someone searches for your name. It provides a cushion against any malicious attacks and it will bury bad information. Really diligent searchers may still find those compromising pictures posted by your old college roommate, but these won’t be the first things to pop up when someone searches your name.
10. Honestly Look At Yourself And The Worst Things You've Ever DoneTry to think about ways this information might come out or how it could be used against you. Don’t exclude public domain information and documents including divorce documents. Then prepare a damage control plan ahead of time. Most large companies do this type of planning every year. Finally, take several hours to figure out what is out there about you already. Advanced Google Search is the deepest search available but there are also ways to search message boards (Boardtracker, Omgili, Boardreader) and social media (social mention) and images (Google Images, Yahoo, Bing, Flickr, and Tineye for reverse search). The best part of all this online reputation crafting is once you have it set up you can use it forever for personal marketing and career management. In addition, your new skills will be a huge asset to any employer! Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles:
- How To Protect Your Online Reputation
- Social Media Guidelines For Young Professionals
- 3 Examples Of Great Personal Branding