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Why Put Your Foot In Your Mouth?

The Internet is a good thing

If you are a business owner, a job seeker using an International Recruitment agency  or freelance contractor you will agree that we have a lot to gain from being online, visible and actively seeking attention for our business or ourselves. The Internet gives global reach and even at national level, a much larger target for selling services is in sight. With this power comes some new responsibilities.

Who is listening?

Online, what is said about you or your business is there online for a long time; this means your reputation has a footprint, which can be tracked. So, anyone with time to look you up and go beyond the first few results will be rewarded by glimpses of your personal and professional reputation. This is linked up even more now by use of social media, which provides an in depth profile, with photos and hobbies, friends and family, business associates and current gripes. If you are applying for an job, software and techniques used by International Recruitment Agencies will be doing their due diligence online.

Old days, do a bad job or upset someone and a small group of people would know about it: In 2012 anyone searching on what you or your company does can be exposed to a bad review or an item about how you or your business failed to satisfy. So one person, or worse still a competitor, can throw out poison to an audience.

Wearing sensible shoes online

You can demonstrate you walk a steady path professionally by writing using your commercial brain and tempering access and content on the social side. It’s simple. If your personal reputation is important for your income watch out how you behave on and off line.

An events coordinator partying to the early hours could be a good thing; a litigation lawyer you know has not been asleep all night, and are meeting in court today to speak on your behalf, less so. International Recruitment Agencies have a range of software tools at their disposal to pull up online references containing your name and age.

We are not talking here about being an angel just being self aware of how your online actions may affect your reputation in the eyes of others. Your name is out there for all to see, so if you comment on forums, chat rooms and networking sites as well as having links to your business or professional history chances are at some time you will say online something better left unsaid. It’s human nature. The human brain is wired to remember and connect the dots. So, someone actively looking for you will make those connections and come up with a profile, which goes well beyond what you put on your CV or commercial web profile.

The big brands manage reputation by using PR teams to manage what is said, control output on the web and ensure all communications are on message. For some businesses this is a full time job for a team. So, if you are an individual or a small business how do you do it, whilst having a life beyond work that will not bite you hard on the income stream one day? Work on what your communication strategy is about. Strategy is probably overkill as a term here. We are just talking of a simple list of things that are OK to discuss on line, including a bit of self guidance like not blogging when drunk or in the middle of the night following an argument. Really, this may be enough to keep you out of trouble.

Set up alerts on you, your company, or your business using Google alerts and monitor what is said, it may surprise you. Each time you write on line you are broadcasting a bit about you, what makes you tick and how you view the world, but once those words are out there they become the base of a comment in someone else’s world. If you are likely to be noticed think about it. It’s PR, you are saying to the world ‘look at me’ each time you write a blog, add a comment or converse on Facebook.

Manage your on line profiles so they tie in with your current CV and LinkedIn profile, make sure all are consistent with each other, don’t leave gaps for others to point out to you. There is very little on the Internet, which is absolutely secure. So even private forums, chat rooms and emails can be leaked or exposed online. Make sure your activities in there spare your blushes. It’s a very old adage that if you cannot say something nice don’t say anything but a good one, as online you may be faced with it some years later and asked to explain it. Not a good position to be placed in and one easily avoidable with a bit of forward planning and some care.

Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression – keep it clean and keep it relevant.


Author: Chris Slay

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