Building a strong online personal brand starts with a thorough review of what is currently online about you. Taking the time to research what can be found online about you helps to plan the course of how you really want to be seen.
00:01 Jacalyn Holsted: Hello, I’m Jacalyn Holsted, I’m actually here with my cat, Felix today, so if you hear a little noise in the background, it’s going to be him, he’s just been sitting on my desk today with me, this is also On Point conversations. And I want to talk about a topic that I have been asked about a number of times, and it’s a big topic, so I’m going to be dividing it into several podcasts and probably also blogging about it on my website, which is On Point Thinking. What I want to talk about is managing your online reputation for free, there are a number of really online reputations, you have your own personal online reputation, and then there’s your business online reputation, and if you’re like me and you’re an entrepreneur and you own your own company, then the name, the personal and the business interact together. When I am posting as Jacalyn Holsted, I’m also realizing that people are going to be thinking of me as On Point Thinking, and if they search me, they’re going to search me both ways, On Point Thinking and Jacalyn Holsted. Since I’m a marketing consultant and Content Strategist, they’re going to look at my entire person of who I am and what I believe in and how I work and how I write, and what things I’m putting online.
01:29 JH: When you’re starting to look at your online reputation and what you want to do, and in the next podcast, we’re going to talk about developing and planning your online reputation, today I want to talk about how you find out what your online reputation is at this point, because there’s hardly anybody that doesn’t have an online reputation already started. You could hire companies to do this, you can hire companies to monitor your online reputation, you can hire companies to clean up your online reputation. I’d like to have you start out with a foundation of really good online reputation, and then you don’t really need to have those resources. Or pay for them.
02:16 JH: Your online reputation on all your digital platforms, plays a very large role in how others view you. So for example, you’re being interviewed for a new job, it’s highly likely that the interviewer or someone in that company will be asked to do an online search on you, and that will include things like the things that they can find on your social media posts, website, your portfolio, if you have one online, anywhere your name is mentioned, and it’ll also probably do a background search, but we’re not going to deal with that because that’s more related to criminal activity, we’re talking about your online reputation, they’re going to be looking at things like misspelled words, so if you have a misspelled tweet or a Facebook rant after you’ve had a really bad day, or they find unflattering photos posted by your friends, and maybe you thought it was fun at the time, that’s all related to your own online reputation.
03:24 JH: So, these are all posted for prosperity, it’s not… So we know it’s not on a piece of paper that you just rip up and throw away and it’s gone, and you can post those and you can take them down, but someone might have already shared it or they’ve already seen it, or it’s already there on the Internet.
03:41 JH: So instead of being reactive, we want to be proactive, and that’s why we spend time… And I spend time thinking about what my own personal reputation is and what I want it to be online. And you know let me be clear, because we’re not just looking at how to put a lid on what your past online mistakes were, but we want to develop a brand for you, and you want to develop a brand where you look confident, capable and internet savvy on what you provide and what you present online. Now, as I said, there are plenty of companies that will help you clean up, protect and build a professional online reputation for a price, but you don’t really need that to begin with, I’m going to talk here about how to manage your online reputation. In this podcast, I’m going to stress and work on searching yourself personally, so let’s start with that part of it, you’re going to research and search yourself personally, and you do it over a period of time, you don’t just do it once, but you keep track of it… I do myself, I particularly do, where my name is involved and also my business name, but as I said, we’re going to approach business in a different podcast, this is really related to personal.
05:01 JH. All really good online reputation management begins with the search and research. Now, people would say Google yourself, and I don’t just mean Google yourself, I would say use every possible search engine, including people searches, social networks and forum searches to find out everything good and bad about what’s being said about you on the internet, so things like Bing is another one Yahoo, DuckDuckGo. There are a number of other ones that I could list, but I’m going to talk specifically about looking at various search engines.
05:38 JH: Begin by searching for your name, your nickname, your maiden name, your married name, if you’re married, and if you took your married name, misspellings of your name, another idea is to search for your first name coupled with a few key words, so the keywords can include anything like hometown, current city, the name of your college, your email address, frequently used username or a phone number, so in other words, try to branch out as much as you can think of about what to find and look at it, it’s kind of a treasure hunt because you’re hunting for what’s online about you.
06:22 JH: Another thing would be to check the social media accounts, blogs and posts of your friends, family members, significant others, just be sure that you’re not blindsided by someone else who doesn’t take your online reputation as seriously as you do. Now, I spreadsheet what I find, and I think that helps clearly keep track of what I’ve looked at, what I’ve seen, what I might want to address, or if you have to talk to a family member about maybe taking down a certain post, that’s not flattering. You might need to go to a friend, ask them. Be sure to check your privacy settings on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever social media posts you’re on, how you want that to be distributed, but keep in mind that just because you put privacy on it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be shared. It’s important to be careful about what you put out there, not to not put anything out there, because an online presence is important, and what you want it to say about you.
07:38 JH: If you’re really worried about a specific person, like a potential employer, what they might find or you want to make sure that you search for identifiable information, that they might have other access to which I mentioned is your email address, frequently used username, phone number. Contact family and friends to take down posts that are unflattering as we talked about and explain to them the importance, you’re looking for a position, you’ve got a potential employer that might be looking just to keep your reputation online to be what you want it to be.
08:18 JH: And watch the groups you belong to, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have certain groups that you belong to, that you feel that are your personal identity, and that’s what you want to portray, and that’s good. But keep in mind what those groups are. And do they keep in mind your personal brand, so I belong to an art group, and a photo of the event was posted, I didn’t post it, but it was a photo me and I was at their fundraiser, and I’m happy with that because I’m participating in a group that I like, I’m supporting artists and the creative community of people that I work with, so it’s part of my personal brand and purpose. I wouldn’t do this, but if I had been in a meeting or in a group that I wasn’t supporting, and they took a picture of me, it might not be relevant to my brand, it might actually be a deterrent. So, you’d have to kind of think about the groups that you belong to. The Google alerts has a really good system, if you haven’t done this, you can just go Google Alerts and put in your name, variations of your name, maybe all the searches that you did, employers, past employers, targeted employers, the employer that you’re looking at now or might be interested in you now. It’s free, you could put in as many as you want, and it’s very helpful to see what people are saying and what kinds of publicity they’re getting.
09:48 JH: You won’t get everything, but you will get alerted on the top things that happened in companies, particularly personal ones, not as much. Sometimes I have a Google alert online on Jacalyn Holsted, and I will get alerts when I post a blog post or a podcast. So now that you know what’s out there, you can start thinking about how you want to look online, what actions you want to take to influence what others might see with you online.
10:25 JH: You want to think about who you are. Who’s going to be searching your information, what do you want them to see, how do you want to be presented with your personal brand, and it is really important to maintain a well-manicured online image. In our next blog post, I’m going to start talking about building your personal brand, because now that you’ve taken the step of researching and looking at what you currently have online, we can look at how to build your own personal brand. Thank you for listening to On Point conversations. I have a website called onpointthinking, if you want to put any comments or you have any questions, I have a contact form, I read all of them and go through them, and I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.