reputationThe internet.  It’s changed everyone’s lives – permanently.  You can Google a potential date, look up reviews for products or businesses, check out a potential employee’s Facebook page – the possibilities are endless, really.  Even if we’re careful with our personal information, it’s possible that too much can end up out there in cyberspace.  At a previous job, I decided to browse some of the applicants Facebook pages.  One of the applicants was someone I had already interviewed, they did very well and were near the top of my list of likely candidates for the position available.  When I checked their Facebook page, it was completely public, and his wall was filled with extremely inappropriate comments from one “friend” in particular regarding drug usage, domestic violence and other illegal activity from his past.  Things like this don’t make you look particularly good to a potential employer or even a potential date.  We no longer just have to protect our reputation in the real world.  We now have to pay attention to online reputation management as well.  In a day where anyone can search your name on the internet and get limitless personal information about you, it can actually put us in danger.  Not only could it prevent us from getting a job or a date, but stalkers and scammers can easily find your address, phone number, age, school, marital status, income, children’s names, etc. just by utilizing the internet.

If you’re a business, your online reputation has an even greater role in your life.  If five people write a review of your business, and four of them give you five stars but just one of them gives you only one star, that one poor review can bring your businessesreputation down quickly.  That one person who had a bad experience may have had a poor interaction with an employee that doesn’t even work for you any longer, or perhaps the review was written before you were able to resolve their problem and they never revised it.  Either way, if you’re not actively monitoring your businesses presence on the internet and paying attention to what kind of reputation you have online, even one poor review or comment could be detrimental to your future business.

Make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself and your online reputation.  Take action to get false information removed or revised from the internet.  Don’t post anything online that could potentially be used against you.  Monitor your social networking sites frequently to make sure you’re not being associated with someone or something that could be detrimental to yourreputation.  If you’re diligent about maintaining your privacy and reputation now, you won’t have uncomfortable explaining to do later.