In many instances, our online reputation is all that we have. Whether you’re an individual looking for a career change or a company looking for new business, the first place almost anyone is going to find more information about you is through an online search.
There can be a lot relying on the reputation your online presence has, and even with such high stakes, few people understand the importance of controlling what is put on the internet. When every post, comment, or remark you make can be found with a few Google searches and the click of a button, people make far too many careless mistakes that damage their online reputation.
Most Common Mistakes
Here are the most common mistakes made online that can damage a person’s online reputation.
While no one wants to see a negative comment or review about them, things happen and it’s difficult to please everyone. A less than favorable review is bound to happen at some point, but the way you react to a negative post tells just as much about you as the negative post itself.
A negative review will leave almost anyone on the defensive, but it is important for the sake of your online reputation to stay offline if you’re feeling worked up. Responding to a negative comment with a negative comment of your own, or conducting a counter attack, is only going to create more damage.
If you feel that a negative comment deserves a response, it is best to approach the individual’s opinion with understanding and concern. Instead of defensively attacking the individual, try to see where they are coming from, but most importantly, how you can adjust the problem.
If an individual was unhappy with your service, insulting them isn’t going to change their mind. See how you can change their opinion of you and take the conversation to a private communication avenue, like email or the phone. Other viewers will see that you took the necessary steps to adjust your reputation without seeing the details of the problem.
Posts or Blogs on Your Online Reputation
Just as responding to a negative comment is in poor taste, addressing your less than stellar online reputation in a post or blog is just as bad.
If you are having a hard time creating a positive online reputation, complaining or rambling will do nothing to drive that image up. Instead, creating an entire post dedicated to the problem will only draw more attention to the problem and make things worse.
The first step in transforming a bad reputation into a good one is accepting that a change needs to be made. Complaining, rambling, or pushing the blame onto someone else will show that you are not willing to put in the work to change people’s opinions.
One of the most common mistakes made on line is assuming that no one will see the photos you posted from Saturday night when you’re dancing on a table with a beer in your hand. These party photos may seem fun to you and your friends, but an employer or potential employee won’t share the amusement.
Where a friend might see a party photo and assume you’re just having a good time, it tells the corporate world that you are unprofessional, sloppy, and you don’t take yourself seriously. This is particularly true if the photos show illegal or immoral activities, such as drug use.
This is not to say that you can’t upload a photo with a glass of wine or beer in your hand, taking into account you are of legal drinking age. For example, a picture from a professional or social event, like a networking event or wedding, where you have a glass in your hand, is not going to get you in trouble or ruin your professional image.
The pictures that you share should be respectable and PG-rated.
Jokes can be difficult. Because not everyone has the same sense of humor, someone may find a joke you post offensive, cruel, or just plain distasteful.
While you may think a joke would show that you have a sense of humor, the quality of the joke may set you on the bad side of some important people. A dumb blonde joke likely wouldn’t go over well if your blonde boss were to stumble upon it.
Even if a joke is elementary or cannot be taken with offense, sharing jokes can shatter a professional image. To avoid any problems sharing a joke may cause, keep them out of your online presence. If you come across a joke you believe your friends or family would enjoy, send it to them in a private message or email.
Comments on Hot Topic Issues
Contrary to what many individuals believe, the internet is not the place to share your opinion on hot topic issues. Because many of these issues involve intense opinions that people hold personally, it is best to avoid confrontation and debate on the internet.
Your online presence should portray you as a professional, positive person. Unless the topic is in your area of expertise, it is not useful to get involved in comment wars or disputes. You never know when a comment you made could appear in a Google search, and if you say something offensive you’ll regret it when it comes back to bite you.
When creating a positive, professional online presence, it is important to remember first that the things we do online are not private. If you are creating posts or making comments under your real name, there is always a way for them to come back around.
A strong online presence shows the world that you are a professional that can be trusted and relied upon, but a poor online presence can stunt your professional growth or prevent you from creating positive relationships. Being aware of these common mistakes will get you one step closer to creating a strong online presence.