Take control of your reputation online

In a world where the vast majority of people are online, both in their personal and professional lives, there is an increasing expectation for all professionals, from CEOs, COOs, and CFOs, to juniors just starting, to have a presence on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

From an organisation's perspective, having an official company spokesperson who is visible on social helps build brand credibility by enabling companies to take part in industry discussions and engage more regularly and effectively with key audiences such as industry peers, prospective employees, and customers.

But what about you as the individual? Well, having an active account is not simply a matter of networking but of ensuring that you have a complete online presence. Social media alone, though, is not enough. Whether you're the representative for your company or looking for the next step up the ladder, your own personal brand requires constant monitoring of the internet to see if you or your business has been mentioned.

Below are four things to consider which will help you to manage your online reputation:

Make a habit of Googling yourself

If you're not doing this regularly, you're not the only one. According to our latest survey at TopCV, over half of the UK population never Google themselves during the job hunt. These days, all professionals need to be hyper switched on to what prospective employers, employees, investors and industry peers are able to see about you online. Increasing your presence in this space should also raise awareness about your personal brand. It's important you stay on top of what people are saying about you, so that you can capitalise on the good and manage the bad.

What if you have Googled yourself and nothing comes up?

Do it again! The internet is constantly updating itself, with estimates stating that there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day. Although most of us won't attract anywhere near as many mentions as say, Jeff Bezos, we still can't afford not to pay close attention to our online reputation in case something new – good or bad – pops up.

Doing a quick Google search of your name once or twice a month is enough to stay on top of this. However, if this doesn't seem like a realistic ask, you can avoid the hassle by setting up a Google News Alert instead – any new results will automatically get sent to your inbox.

If you find something bad on Google, what should you do next?

OK, so you finally got around to running a Google search and you find a few unwanted results. What can you do next? Well, you can submit a request to the publication to have the article or page amended or your name removed. If you don't have success with this, you can try to "squash" or "push down" unflattering results by focusing on securing positive press in other publications.

Also, avoid clicking multiple times on the negative article or sending it around to your friends and family. The more clicks it gets, the higher it will rise in Google's search results. If you find something online that's really damaging, consider using a personal reputation management service as well.

But beware, don't delete all of your accounts just yet

Having no online footprint can often be as damaging to your credibility as having negative results. If your main professional account has been jeopardised, it is always worth setting up a new profile on an alternative platform. From this, you can begin a fresh push of content, be that a blog or your comments on a relevant industry news story. As these new results get clicked on and shared, they'll start to take the place of the older content.

Whether you've been responsible for managing the brand of your own business for decades or are brand new to the world of self-promotion, Googling yourself will always remain an important aspect of career progression. Get into the habit now and improve your reputation and employability prospects for the future.

Help your CV be as tidy as your online profiles. Get a free review from TopCV to discover how your CV stacks up.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on Business Leader.

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