Online Reputation: A brief study

Today is the day of the internet. We are the citizens of the connected globe and as everyday goes by, our online reputation is becoming increasingly more important even in our real lives offline. So what goes into building one?  How do we take care of it? How much of our lives do we need to devote to it? Let us look at this today

If a person applies for a job, the employer checks his online reputation. If you apply for a loan, credit report and online rep are checked. This has become an integral part of life now now. So just like an academic credential and financial discipline, online discipline also becomes critical. There are some things that we can control and some things that we cannot. Both together contribute to this. Let us take a closer look.

First and foremost is the very important fact that your online reputation is what others think you are and not what you think you are. There are many times when these two are opposite to each other. So first we need to see how understand others’ perception of us online. Then half the battle is won.

The definition of online reputation is not exact, it is the total amalgamation of all that you have publicly said,done,stood for and opposed online. These decide who your network sees you as. If they see you as a reliable part of their network who is knowledgeable in his/her line of work, then you are set. If they do not trust you and think that you are full of hot air, then we are in trouble. There are a few ground rules that I follow to sustain my online reputation and before we get into them, let me tell you that these have evolved over time and will continue to evolve in the present and future. Now here they are

  1. Have and avatar and let it be your photo – This goes a long way in telling people that you do not want to hide behind anonymity and that you are being an extension of yourself online. I detest interacting with people who think they are dogs, kings, cats and the like. I hate people who have Justin B as their avatar. Most online reputation analysis tools will mark you as a risk if you have a dopey or a ropey avatar.
  2. Create a handle that makes sense – Let it be your name or if that is against your policy, then let it be something that you believe in or stand for, my twitter handle is @v_shakthi and that is my name. I have friends who have handles that represent what they do or stand for, that is fine too. But idiotic stuff like @whoopass @kikbutt @blahblah is a no no on my book. If you are not open with who are and what you stand for, then there is something wrong with you
  3. Never take radical stands in public fora – When you are online, the best idea is ti stay away from radical stances or statements thereof, you may take them or say them on a whim and sometimes regret and delete them on a later date, but the search engine cache is full these and will be retrieved when a prospective employer tries to see what you are online. That might not end well. If there is a cause you believe in, stand for it, but only if you want to stick to it and do shift away later.
  4. Never bring your personal life online – Discussing personal life online is a big no-no. Initially it all looks like a good rapport building exercise, but remember there are people online who do not have the best of intentions and you do not want them to know your personal life too well. That might be a big issue later on. Avoidance is better in this case
  5. Never ever discuss employers or employees online – This is a huge gaffe. If possible try and keep work friends and bosses away from your twitter and facebook. The number of people who have been sued and fired for saying crap about work is ever rising and joining those ranks is not exactly a nice thing.  Also remember that Non Disclosures that you sign when you take up a job are binding on you and if you are caught discussing proprietary intricacies online, then both this and the next job are finished for you. No one will touch you even with a barge pole.
  6. Take it easy with the party updates – Everyone parties, but then sharing every drink and lucid detail from the party as pics or updates online will do only damage to your profile and no good. No one will give a job to a guy who has one walk of shame pic posted every Friday night!

Those are my current rules, do tell me what rules you have, I am all ears!


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