The Mystery behind One’s Digital Image

Brand equity, as explained by Google, is an intangible asset that depends on associations made by the consumer. In other words, brand equity is one’s image, one’s reputation.

Not only products but also you, he, she, and I – we all have an image. This image defines us. It is the sum of our actions, and what others say about us.

It is an asset that we build along our lives, and none can ever take it away from us.

In this new world of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and such we all have two sets of reputations – an offline one, and an online one. Being quite familiar with the first one, we, some people, are still new to the latter. However, both of them are quite similar except in two particular cases.

  1. One, in internet the speed of information flow is really high. Internet can not only make someone a star overnight but also destroy the last shred of positive reputation that he or she may have in hours too.
  2. Two, internet remembers. Google, for example, archives every single that it comes across.

Approximately 1 billion names are being searched for in Google every day, and among them almost 77% are done by employers all around the world.

Did you know that Steve Jobs, the former CEO and founder of Apple, had a 92% positive buzz rate over the internet?  Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Amazon.com, has a 91% positive buzz rate too. So does Larry Page, the co-founder, and CEO of Google, Laurence D. Fink, the chairman and CEO of Blackrock, with 72% and 85% positive buzz rate respectively, and I could go on and on.

These are some of the business magnates, who people trust when they make investments in their corporations. How did they earn that trust? They earned it with their reputation.

Back in the day, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, used Twitter to personally respond to his customers. Today he is regarded as the best CEO of the world in numerous lists all over the world. Jeff Bezos from Amazon.com has quite image of a visionary. A reporter once called him superhero. Today when Mr. Bezos speaks, people tend to listen to him.

Today whether it is that you’re preparing for a job interview, or trying to build a new startup and looking for investors, your digital image is going to play an inevitable role.  However, as important and fruitful as it is to have and protect your digital reputation, it gets pretty tough down the road too. However, when a little effort can assure so many things, it is worth it. You just need to follow some steps.

The DIY spectrum

First, make a search yourself. Yes, it is time to see what is actually there under the black cloak. We’re going to get the help of Google first. Make sure you’re signed out of Google (that is if you have a google account and are logged into it in the first place). Google seems to alter the results a bit to make it more relevant in accordance with your name, your location, and all that. However, when your employers or your customers will do it, you won’t have the same edge. So, make it neutral. Now fill up the search bar with your name and press enter.

What do you see? This will help you determine what category you belong to. First see, if the search results are relevant. That is, you need to figure out whether you can relate the results to yourself. Unless your name is John Smith, you probably have the correct results. However, if you can’t relate the results, you fall in the irrelevant category. In this case, you need to start building up your existence in the virtual world. Now if they are relevant, figure out if these are positive. If these are positive, then you’re among the good ones out there. You may want to improve it, though. A lot of things can be done to make you look better. Think about it like this – if you are a Lamborghini, it won’t hurt to become a Bugatti now, would it? A little greed is never harmful. However, if the search results turn out to be negative, you have something to worry about. Don’t worry. We’ll tell you how to remedy that as your reading progresses. Now look more closely – as in do click some of the links that the search result displayed. It’s not very uncommon to end up with someone else’s results. I have a friend, who ended up with an ex con’s results. Now is that the case? Don’t worry. We’ll cure that too.

The Next Step

Now that you know which category you belong to, we’ll look into how to create your existence. If you already have one, and that’s positive, as said before, you can always make it better. If it’s a negative one that you have, these steps will help you turn the game around.

Now there are some websites that Google and other search engines tend to relate more. As in, if you have a good existence in these websites, chances are that you’ll end up with good search results too. These sites include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Quora, Academia.edu, WordPress blogs, and such.

First what you need to do is get yourself a logo, as in a headshot. A good headshot will never let you down. It gives you a symbol. Remember the time when you were admiring the black horse in Ferrari’s logo? We’re trying to establish something similar here.

We all have our point of views. We can do great things with them. But we always end up thinking about them before going to sleep and while taking the shower. Not anymore. Get yourself a WordPress. Go to wordpress.com and create an account. Organize it in a professional and elegant manner. For starters, get a tab, where you’ll blogs will be, one for your contact information, which will include all the links to your other sites.

Now get yourself a LinkedIn account, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and a Google+. Chances are that you have them already. If you do, link them to your blogs. Share your write-ups with your friends and followers. They increase readability, and they do it better than anything else. Not really feeling up to having a Google+? I faced the same situation. However Google+ is the most underrated social media out there. A good Google+ acceleration will get you two beautiful things. First, this will get you an author rank. It starts at 0 and increases in accordance to your posts. This will tell you how Google thinks your contents are. The other one is that when someone searches your name, the logo that you got yourself at the first time will appear right next your blogs, and trust me, it looks marvelous. These little things increase your net worth to a value that you could never imagine.

Quora is a question and answer based website. Here, people – well, they answer questions. They discuss certain stuff. Here, you can not only broaden your existence elegantly but also increase your knowledge regarding certain things. Academia.edu is a den of academics. Here, you’ll find a ton of key stuff that can reveal certain mysteries and increase your views and skills. You can also share some of your own.

Visit Ripoff Report, CredentialWatch, and Yelp as much as you can. Be proactive and share your own opinions regarding the negative views there. It shows how consistent you can be when the time comes.

Remember to always share contents. If it’s an experience at LinkedIn that you’re adding, add a picture of your team with you in it. This matters. It shows that you’re a team player to a very good extent. Again, while you’re doing it, don’t get too excited. Quality always matters more than quantity.

The Night That Never Ends

As you may have already figured out, now comes the lengthiest step. Now you’ll have to keep and maintain what you build.

Recall what you learned in that sociology course in college. Yes, in the end, it all comes down to building relationships.

Thank you and sorry – no other word can build relationships more than these two. You know when to say them. Now just apply what you know. It’s always good. Start with thanking every comment that you get in your posts. If they were sore about for some reason, start with a sorry and explain what you meant. Be lenient. It’s not very uncommon for two people to have different points of view.

Start helping people – this is the key step of building relationships. Don’t help to get something in return. Help for the sake of helping only. Try to go beyond what was expected in the first place. Remember when you were asked to do something as early as possible within 11th January, and you ended up doing it exactly on 11th January? This time try to get it done on 10th, or even better – 9th.

Act with integrity. This is a cruel world, and we all know that. But try not to get too submerged in it. Jealousy, greed, and selfishness – these 3 guys will always persuade you to act otherwise. Don’t listen to them.

Share your way in. Yes, try to share as much free stuff as you can. Let them be suggestions, or something else. A little smile on the other side will you get you a million of them eventually.

Engage yourself with various communities out there. You can meet new people there. Friendships go a lot beyond what you can think of. A good companionship at times helps both sides. Remember that the bigger your friend list is, the more eyes you have on your profile.

Be likeable. This basically means to be yourself. Yes, it’s true. You are likeable. But that’s you, not some false appearance that you may have at times.

So, now that we have covered almost all the basics of building relationships, let’s focus into what we have now, or may deal with in the future. Yes, let’s learn to keep now.

Track what is being said about you. Is it too bad? Don’t worry. A sorry will go a long way. Try to explain yourself. It’s been said before. It’s not very uncommon for people to have different points of view.

Control what’s out there. Yes, keep an eye on what is being shared, concerning you. Nowadays sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ etc. offer an intense amount of privacy settings. Make use of them. Has someone already posted something that may prove to be harmful to your professional image? Try sending them a message. Be lenient in, while you’re doing it. With a kind request, chances are that he or she will take that down, even if you don’t really get along with that person. You can also try seeking help by contacting the customer support of that website. If there’s a forum, post in it. Now this may not have a good looking rate of success, however, is worth a shot.

Is there something in your name search that you don’t like to show? Well, to be honest, you may not get to remove that content from web. But don’t worry, as you can always bury it. If you’ve done everything that has been mentioned till now, chances are that you have buried it already. You can also try contacting the website that has that content. Again, a good, lenient request goes a long way. You can also try appealing to Google in a legal manner to remove the content/s. Most of the time, they respond quickly, if done right.

Yes, that’s basically all.

I know what you’re thinking. This, to a great extent, is marketing oneself, and it may be hard for some people. I understand that. I was one of you. But there is no escape from it in this new world. You have to speak up.

Your reputation is the only money that you have, and no matter how much you spend will never be less. It never fluctuates in the market. Take care of it.

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References

  1. Adam Dachis, 2011, ‘How to Fix Internet Embarrassments and Improve Your Online Reputation’, viewed 102,466 January, 2015,

http://lifehacker.com/5850288/how-to-fix-internet-embarrassments-and-improve-your-online-reputation

  1. Ken Sundheim, 2014, ‘Employers Will Google You: 6 Steps to Improve Your Online Image’, viewed 18,806 January, 2015,

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensundheim/2014/04/24/employers-will-google-you-6-steps-to-improve-your-online-image/2/

  1. ‘Establishing Your Online Brand’, Student Services, The Career Center, Loyola University Maryland,

http://www.loyola.edu/department/thecareercenter/students/online-image

  1. ‘Online Reputation Management: A Step-By-Step Guide’, BrandYourself.

https://brandyourself.com/info/seo/online_reputation

  1. Duncan Morris, 2007, ‘Top 10 strategies to improve your online reputation’,

https://www.distilled.net/blog/reputation-monitor/top-10-strategies-to-improve-your-online-reputation/

  1. Matt Heinz, 2013, ‘Six Ways to Improve and Manage Your Online Reputation’,

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/six-ways-improve-and-manage-your-online-reputation

  1. YEC Women, 2014, ‘10 Simple Ways To Improve Your Reputation’, viewed 13,191 January, 2015,

http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/01/28/10-simple-ways-to-improve-your-reputation/

8. Cheryl Conner, 2014, ‘5 New Reasons CEOs Should Maintain Stellar Online Reputation Management’, viewed 3,142 January, 2015,

http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2014/01/18/5-new-reasons-ceos-should-maintain-a-stellar-reputation-online/

  1. ‘CEOs With The Best & Worst Online Buzz’, Forbes lists,

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fgdi45jmmf/ceos-with-the-best-online-buzz-2/

  1. Amber Mac, ‘REPUTATION MATTERS: THE TOP 10 BEST AND WORST CEOS’, shared 497 January, 2015,

http://www.fastcompany.com/3027044/dialed/reputation-matters-the-top-10-best-and-worst-ceos#1

  1. 2014, ‘Best Online Reputation Management Company Reveals the Benefits of a Positive Online Reputation’, Releases, Scottsdale Reputation,

http://www.prweb.com/releases/ScottsdaleReputation/JWMaxxSolutions/prweb12263089.htm