Shakespeare, in Act 2 of his Othello play from about 1603, said it best: Reputation, reputation, reputation. It is the original personal brand and one of the realities that define our lives. For Solopreneur consultants and other freelancers, reputation governs the number and quality of projects made available to us, and therefore reputation affects our income and the type of life we can live. It is worthwhile, in more ways than one, to cultivate an unmatched reputation and vigorously protect it.
In the Internet age that is especially true, both in the personal and professional sectors. The mistakes and mischaracterizations that are made in digital formats are extremely difficult to avoid, ignore, deny or correct. One’s online reputation is the best flypaper. Take steps to make sure everything that sticks to your name is good.
Along with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are the sites where images of you are most likely to be posted, both for you and for others. When the cameras are close, that is, as long as someone has a cell phone, which is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, make sure their behavior represents you and your brand.
There is nothing wrong with being photographed in an obviously casual gathering. Just make sure that you (or others) don’t find yourself in the middle of activities that could be misinterpreted and reflect badly on you in the future. If you regularly appear in photos that you know or suspect will be posted on social media sites, counter with a photo of your own that shows you at work, paid, or volunteering. Balance your bills, so to speak, and show that there is more to you than a non-stop party.
Create and regularly post original content that makes you look smart, professional, and successful. In your LinkedIn account, announce when you will attend a symposium, participate in a panel, teach a course or workshop, and definitely pass on the good news if you recently earned a professional certification or advanced degree.
If you’ve hosted a webinar, request the replay and turn it into a podcast for your website and YouTube. If you write a newsletter or blog, link it to your website and LinkedIn. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, produce high-quality news and image streams that convey the skills and values you want to be known for.
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can also offer glimpses of your personal life and it could all be for the better, as long as you are strategic about what is revealed. Your volunteer work is always a safe bet. Training for a marathon or even a fun, casual volleyball or softball league would be great. Your parents’ wedding anniversary party would be another good personal aspect to include in your online narrative. Keep in mind that narrative is the keyword. Create the story you want to be told, in a way that makes you look wonderful.
About every three months, search for your name and your business name on engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo, and see what appears in the top 50 listings. Are you happy with what you see? Test keywords related to your business alongside your city and check your professional scope in a deeper way.
If you discover that your business has been negatively and inaccurately reviewed, please contact the review site and request that the offending post be removed. If customers have offered criticism that may be constructive, address the issue. Apologize and offer your side of the story. Make amends if possible. By doing so, you will increase your credibility and reputation for customer service.
It has been reported that 70% of US job recruiters have turned down potential candidates when something about them that was deemed unpleasant appeared on social media. Individual entrepreneurs must assume that potential clients will do the same. Maintaining and monitoring your reputation online has never been more important.
Thank you for reading,