Taking Care of Your Internet Persona
This post turned out to be quite controversial, so you may like to know that there is in fact a follow-up post to it as well that you can read here…
It’s easy to forget that Google works not just on finding big companies, blogs, shopping sites and all the other myriad search queries we hit daily, but that it can also be used to find all the down’n'dirty on people too – that MySpace page you forgot about, those crazy Flickr party shots or that ranting blog you write everyday. This is particularly true if, like me you spend most of your life online. Now if it’s just your mate looking you up that’s not really a problem, but what if it is one of your clients, your employer or heck your future father-in-law? In that case you had better make sure your internet persona is what it should be…
If you write anything on the net, you must be prepared for a prospective client or employer to read it (and for that matter your friends, partner and mother). Unfortunately, many activities can come off as unprofessional and may lose you work. So the first thing you should do is run what is known as a vanity search, hit Google.com (or whatever search engine you prefer) and type in anything you think people might use to find you. Some names get lost in the masses, but others will stick out like sore thumbs … like my name!
Controlling your Internet Persona
There are some easy ways to avoid making the wrong impression to a prospective client:
- Think before you swear profusely online.
- Consider what you are about to say when discussing politics or religion online.
- Consider how a personal blog might come off if it is written under your trading name or business site
- Think before you post a photo or video of yourself that you wouldn’t want your mother to see (and if you have a really liberal mother then insert the name of someone more conservative into that sentence!).
- Avoid inflammatory comments about sex, race or religion.
- And think before you join a controversial site under your name or your trading name.
Using pseudonyms or handles which you keep completely seperate from your working life can help for all your personal activities. That way you can keep work and life seperate. If your vanity search does yield some incriminating results, take measures to clean up after yourself, take things down, rename sites and contact websites to ask for a take down if you don’t have control yourself.
Remember, the internet is like a dinner party – make sure you think about who you’re speaking to before the words come out of your mouth.