Whether you are an individual preparing to job hunt or a small business owner who relies on a positive image to make your company go, getting a bad online image can be the death knell for your aspirations.
As more and more employers and consumers turn to the Internet to use in their daily lives, coming across a bad image of someone may make you think twice about doing business with them or hiring them.
So, how does the individual seeking a job or small business owner go about making sure their online image is as pristine as possible?
There are a number of different efforts you should set in motion when you are looking for work or starting a new business.
* Search the Internet – A simple entry of your name or small business on Google will get you started. It is important that you DO NOT just assume that your online image is fine, because there is always the possibility that a former friend or customer has turned to the web to talk about you. For the individual, it could be a former acquaintance has turned to the web to humiliate them by posting negative comments and/or images. When looking for a new job, keep in mind that many employers now employ Google searches for applicants. In the event they find a reason to discount you for the job, there is a good chance they came up with it while on the web. Meantime, the small business owner can also be at the mercy of a disgruntled customer. If that customer has a bad experience with your business, they can end up using the Internet to make life miserable for you;
* Be prepared to fight back – In the event you come across negative online details regarding yourself and/or your business, how will you deal with it? While some have the time and initiative to handle it on their own, others will need to turn to an online reputation management company to handle the fight for them. Such companies can employ internet reputation management tools in order to put the individual or company in a better light. The goal above and beyond anything else is to get your name in a positive light higher up in Google and other search engine rankings (see below);
* Spread the positive news – Once you understand there is a problem, get cranking on spreading positive news about yourself and/or your business. This can be done in several forms, including press releases, blog posts, customer or individual testimonials, using social media, and more. If you are the individual trying to get a job, promote your qualities on sites such as LinkedIn, where many employers turn to in order to post jobs and review applicant credentials. If you have an individual blog, use it to highlight your accomplishments so that employers see you could be a good fit for them. For the small business owner fighting back, blog posts and press releases are a great start. A number of press releases highlighting your company’s products and services in a positive light will help you improve your rankings with the search engines. Relevant and authoritative blog posts are also a good tool to improve your online image;
* Review more often – It is rather a safe assumption to say that many individuals and small businesses for that matter do not know have the stuff being said about them on the web. As a result, they could be losing out on job opportunities and/or business opportunities. If you find negative content or images about you once, it can be assumed that it could easily happen again. That being the case, you should review your online status from time to time, not just when something bad surfaces. It is always better to be in a preventative mode than a reactionary one.
As you can see, your online image is as important today as anything else about you or your business.
If you are not tuned in to what is being said about you online, your reputation could be the one to suffer, meaning lost jobs and lost customers.