Friday, 13 January 2012

How do people see you?

One of the free seminar sessions I attended at Online this year was about online reputation management, although that session focused on companies and how brand reputation can get damaged so easily now with mass peer-to-peer communication made so easy with social media.

I have been thinking more about individual reputation and personal brands.  In the past, your reputation depended upon your personal appearance, actions and achievements and was known only to that limited circle of people you had met, or perhaps those who had read articles you may have published.

Today, however, many more people may have 'heard of you', lots of whom you will not have met (and may never get a chance to).  Whether you put lots of effort into creating a certain image or perception (a 'personal brand') or never give it a thought, those people who see your Tweets, read your blog, friend you on Facebook, read your comments on others' blogs, etc, will all have formed their own ideas about who you are, what your views are, what your personality it like.

I came across this infographic the other day, which gives lots of good ideas on how to find out what your online reputation might be like, and some ways to go about influencing perceptions about you.   This got me thinking - why does it matter what people, many of whom you will never meet, think about you?

From my perspective as a recruiter, it matters because you never know who will be on the other end of the next job application you make!  Chances are, even if they haven't come across you online before receiving your application, they will run a Google search of your name as part of their selection process.  

Would you be happy with what they would find?  It can be very illuminating to check it out for yourself - preferably from a PC you haven't used much, and when you are NOT signed into your Google account.

One quite sneaky, but I thought very useful, tip from the Online session I went to was how to 'bury' less-than-ideal search results about you.  Some of the social media sites rank very highly on Google, so if you make sure you have a well filled-out LinkedIn profile, a Slideshare account with some good library-related presentations loaded onto it, and a Flickr account with shots of your workplace or other libraries, then those could 'drown out' any less-than-flattering mentions of you at the office party...

Having a positive online reputation alone will not win you that dream job, but a negative one might just be the deciding factor in preventing you getting invited for an interview.  It is therefore worth investing a little time making sure that you put your best foot forward online, as you do 'in real life'.

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