My June, 2010 Missoulian InBusinessMonthly column
When it comes down to it, everything can be “managed”: There’s stress management (maybe on a fly-fishing stream), pain and anger management (perhaps at happy hour), and after dinner, it’s dish-management time for the kids and scrap management for the dog.
This is also the online era, and because so many of us live online, we have reputations, so to speak. And as a result, there is a new “science” called online reputation management (complete with the acronym ORM).
Online, your “reputation” is the sum total of what can be found with a search engine. That includes social networking, forum posts, your own website and what people write on their sites about you, in news articles (if you’re famous enough) and on and on.
The width and breadth of what makes up an online reputation isn’t going to narrow anytime soon, and if you’re concerned about it in terms of your job, your business or life in general, it’s a good idea to consider reputation management in at least a minimal sense.
ORM isn’t rocket science, and you can do some of it yourself, even though there are hundreds of businesses that specialize in ORM (just Google “reputation management” and see the results) and charge anywhere from a dollar a day on up to monitor and manage your reputation for you.
Reputation management strategies differ, depending on if you’re simply an individual with Facebook and other profiles, or a business with a brand name. I’ll cover the business angle of ORM next month, but for an individual, the first thing to consider is: How did all that stuff about me get out there on the Internet?
For the most part, you put it there. So the first rule is to be careful of just what you put out there.
How can it affect you? Well, are you looking for a job? There are many stories out there of interviewers pulling up a Facebook profile in the middle of a job interview.
You might remember last year that the city of Bozeman had to back away from its requirement that job applicants hand over their log-ins for their social network profiles. That shows social networking and the information available is on everyone’s radar.
According to a study by Microsoft last year, 70 percent of United States managers said they have rejected candidates based on what they found on social networks.
This being college graduation season, Syracuse University recently entered into an agreement with Brand-Yourself.com, an online reputation management platform to help their new graduates.
You can set up some reputation management tools yourself. Sign up for Google and Yahoo news and blog feeds and you’ll quickly know when your name shows up somewhere.
Of course, it helps to be careful what you do, period. Court and criminal records are coming online all over the country, if they’re not already easily available online now.
I once saw a job posted in an online forum by an individual who wanted to hire someone to get links removed from Google, as they were bad for his business reputation.
His assumption was naive from the beginning. The links were to court documents, and they weren’t going to disappear from Google anytime soon, if ever.
And the reason he felt they affected his reputation? They were court documents outlining his conviction for bank fraud. Even a Facebook profile with 10,000 friends won’t outrank that reputation management problem.
Next month: ORM for businesses.