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27 Top Free Ways to Create a Positive Net Reputation

1. Just follow the “golden rule.” Be honest, thoughtful, respectful, and consistent online. Treat others as you want to be treated. Say “thank you” often and that you’re sorry when an apology is appropriate. Carefully listen to feedback and use good “netiquette.” Enjoy the student created video below to learn more about netiquette.

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2. Be active by doing something that is meaningful. As an example, blog thoughtfully, responsibly, and positively about topics that are important to you. Participate in relevant online communities. This will help contribute to the quality of online discourse and enable others that search on your name to see your contributions.

3. Link your accounts together. If you use (Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Facebook, or other social media), link the accounts together to maximize search engine results. Use a consistent email address and the name that prospective employers would use to search for you and/or that you use on your resume.

4. Define yourself and get the good word out to others. Create a Google profile at https://accounts.google.com/Login?service=profiles.

5. Complete a LinkedIn profile at linkedin.com. LinkedIn is a free social network designed for professionals to network, communicate, and join groups. If you have a LinkedIn profile, keep it updated and make certain that each section reflects your strengths and accomplishment. Network. Join relevant groups, contribute, and become engaged. Consider investing in a photograph that reinforces the professional image you seek to portray.

6. Who is saying what about you…or about someone else with the same name? Monitor the web for content that contains your name by using Google Alerts at Google.com/alerts and Social Mention at www.socialmention.com.

7. Be helpful to others. Read other people’s blogs and write thoughtful, positive, and constructive comments that add new insight to the post or concisely answer a question. This will help contribute to the quality of online discourse and enable others that search on your name to see your contributions.

8. Google yourself. Google yourself at www.google.com regularly so that you know what others see when they Google you. Make certain that you sign out of your Google account so that you can receive more neutral results that aren’t optimized for your location and search habits.

9. Keep your personal information private. Use privacy controls on your social networking sites to limit personal information that you don’t want publicly viewed. Social networks can contribute to your positive net reputation. Net Literacy prefers Google+’s circles over Facebook’s privacy settings and we use Google+ as our social network of choice when teaching digital literacy in our Basic Social Networking Skills Training Guide.

10. DancingGal@gmail.com or MarySmith22@gmail.com? Choose an email address that reflects well on your net reputation and contributes to your personal brand.

11. Interact with online content rather than merely consuming it. Commenting in forums demonstrates your expertise and problem solving skills, enhancing your net reputation.

12. Spread the good word. Selectively use a geolocation, status, or location application to communicate your chartable and community service efforts to support your cause and demonstrate your passion about making the real and virtual world a better place for all.

13. Do you tweet? If you use Twitter, review your tweets to ensure they reflect your professional persona and the manner in which you seek to be branded. Add (or delete) followers focusing on building relationships rather than merely follower counts. Should you customize your background to further enhance your positive net reputation?

14. Be proactive. Use Google’s tool for reputation management: “Me on the Web” at www.google.com/goodtoknow/manage-data/me-on-the-web. The “Me on the Web” section in your Google Dashboard can help you understand and mange what people see when they search for you on Google. In addition to allowing you to be notified when your personal data appears on the web (Google Alerts), it allows you to remove unwanted content.

15. Review your Facebook (and other social networking) content. Facebook is the most popular social networking site on the planet and if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have a profile. Conduct an annual “spring cleaning” un-tagging pictures and posts that do not reflect your positive net reputation. Limit access to those that are not meaningful. If you have questions if a post or picture is appropriate, talk with a trusted friend that is business or life savvy.

16. A marathon or a sprint? Building a positive online reputation is a marathon rather than a sprint. While a positive net reputation can be damaged by a poorly thought out comment and a “click” of one’s mouse, creating rich content that builds a powerful online reputation takes years and is an ongoing process. If you make a mistake, apologize, be genuine, and show compassion. Today is better than tomorrow to begin your positive net reputation initiative.

17. Avoid spending big bucks at online reputation repair companies if possible. Consider using a paid service to help you correct a negative online reputation only if your digital footprints are beyond your ability to repair. Some online reputation services provide a reasonable service for consumers while others are much less effective. Many online reputation repair services require a monthly subscription and can become expensive. The best way to avoid these expenses is following this list of free ways to create a positive net reputation and realize that it takes time to mitigate a damaged reputation.

18. Search Twitter. Search Twitter to know what people with your same name are saying. Search on your name at Twitter at twitter.com/#!/search-home. This will help you learn what others see if they search for you on Twitter.

19. Be articulate and impactful while reflecting well on yourself. Its easier to persuasive if you’re blogs contain no misspellings, good sentence structure, and excellent grammer (did you catch all of the distracting mistakes in this point?)

20. Be authentic. Reveal the authentic you without going off-message in your posts, blogs, pictures, and tweets. Ask yourself “I won’t regret this later, will I?” before posting it online. If you are unsure how your content will impact your net reputation, reflect upon your post by sleeping on it before posting it.

21. Quality trumps quantity. Be thoughtful before “friending” or adding everyone and anyone to your social network, because your net reputation is not determined by merely counting the number of connections that you have.

22. Increase your online prominence. While some online reputation sites recommend that you build a personal website using a URL with your name, this is an expensive alternative and a domain name that includes your name is likely to be unavailable. As another no-cost alternative, construct a personal page that’s about you at a site like www.about.me.

23. Stay grounded in reality. The Internet is very cool and creating an outstanding net reputation is important, but most of us still spend more time in the real world. Your net reputation should be as good as and consistent with your real world reputation, and vice versa.

24. What you “Like” and “Google+” becomes part of who you are and can be a very positive reflection on who you are. Be thoughtful before “Liking” or “Google+ing” a cause, picture, or article since your net reputation is influenced by the content that you promote. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a picture or video that you post because if you post it, you are promoting the content.

25. Remember the Internet law of Predictable Consequences. The more outrageous and damaging the material you post or send, the more likely it will be to go viral and mess up your reputation, friendships, and opportunities. (Courtesy, Nancy Willard, Embrace Civility in the Digital Age.)

26. Is your profile picture perfect? Is your profile pic enhancing your online reputation? Using a default picture (the grayed headshot image) could suggest that your profile is still a work in process, which is not the brand that job candidates seek to portray when using the professional networking site, Linkedin. A high quality and clear picture – usually a head shot picture – taken in business casual attire or better is what we recommend. On Linkedin, cute or casual pictures detract from your brand. Your profile picture on Google+, Facebook, and other social networking sites need not be as formal, but they should depict you as the clean cut and positive way that you want to be seen.

27. You’re hired! Your net reputation is part of who you are in the real and virtual worlds. It is the positive online force that can be as powerful and as useful during your job search as your own resume. By engaging in online activities in a manner that reflects the positive and thoughtful person that you are, you positively contribute to the online discourse and enhance your net reputation.

Please send your suggestions that describe the ways that you’ve enhanced your net reputation to danielkent@netliteracy.org and we will share the most novel, thoughtful and positive ones to this list. Thanks!

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