Social Media for Baby Boomers: Easy Steps to Enhance Your Online Reputation (Part 2)
January 22, 2012
Social Media for Baby Boomers: Easy Steps to Enhance Your Online Reputation
Part 2: What Reputation Do You Want?
By Hope Wilson, CPSM
Remember the salesmen of your youth? The good ones would show up at your door, armed with a trustworthy smile, the endorsement of Mrs. Smith down the street, and answers to your every question about their product. In time, they faded away, replaced with broad-reaching—yet impersonal—mass marketing. The TV commercials and billboards were captivating at first. Eventually, however, we developed a level of skepticism about product claims, as well as immunity to the constant barrage on our senses.
While mass marketing still has its uses, we now find ourselves coming “full circle,” back to the age of the individual salesperson. This salesperson still has a trustworthy appearance, the endorsement of your friend Mrs. Smith, and answers to your every question about their product or service. However, the Internet is now a key tool in establishing these relationships and credibility.
What does this have to do with you? In this technological age, we each have a product to sell online: ourselves. Before hiring or doing business with someone, it is now common practice to research them on the Internet. We want to know the answers to questions like:
- Who is this person?
- What is their educational, professional, and personal background?
- What do others say about their work?
- Do we have mutual friends/associates in common?
- How knowledgeable are they about their product, service, and industry?
- Do they have glaring mistakes or embarrassments in their past that might negatively reflect upon me or my organization?
- What is the reputation of the organization they represent?
A quick online search—which I will address further in the next post—will often inform us of everything from legal problems to the individual’s ancestry. If there’s more than one person in your town or industry with the same name, their online reputation can become muddled with yours. And, if there happens to be minimal information about you on the Internet, don’t think you’ve dodged a bullet: a lack of information can make people equally skeptical about you.
Remember, too, that your individual reputation and the reputation of the organization you work for are intertwined. Think about the ethical controversies that have plagued many companies in recent years. Unethical actions of individuals—especially those in a leadership position—can greatly harm the organization. On the flip side, working for an organization with a poor reputation can also call into question your personal credibility and integrity. It serves everyone well if both the organization and the individual carefully establish and monitor their online reputations.
As a result of these trends, it is now vital to “brand” yourself as an individual, just as you would develop the brand of your company. Regardless of whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or an Administrative Assistant of a small non-profit, you need to establish an online reputation that will both protect and enhance your reputation.
To begin this process, carefully consider this question: What are the three words or phrases best describe your strengths as an individual and professional?
If you’re having trouble coming up with three words/phrases, begin by making a list of all the personal and professional traits that you exhibit. Ask your colleagues, friends, and family for help. Once you have a comprehensive list, begin narrowing down your list until you have three key descriptors. For my client, the clear choices were 1) knowledge leader, 2) trusted advisor, and 3) ethical gatekeeper.
Next, ask yourself: Are these the words that you want to describe you as a professional? Will they enhance or detract from your professional goals?
As I mentioned in the last post, my client’s goals were to take advantage of the opportunities he’d been given to serve as a national and global scholar in his field. The key descriptors that we’d chosen were very appropriate for him as an individual, and they were “in sync” with his professional goals.
However, let’s say that your three descriptor words are: 1) cutting-edge, 2) risk-taker, and 3) spontaneous. If your professional goal is to transition into a new career as a financial advisor/investor, you may want to adjust these descriptors so you give your future clients a feeling of security and trustworthiness.
After you have settled on three words that identify who you are and how you want to be seen, you can use them to establish or enhance your online reputation.
Up Next: Research Your Current Reputation
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