Build a Good Online Reputation

By Linda McCarthyInternet Security Advocate and Expert

It is really important to make sure that the Internet showcases your better side.  Yes, you may have one or two less than stellar posts. But if those negative posts are outweighed by recent positive postings, they’re going to drop out of the top search engine results. Luckily, most searchers stop after three or four screens of search results. If you can push any negative results to the fifth page or farther, you just might push it beyond searchers’ radar.

To help you create a good online rep, here are 5 critical steps:

(1) Be discreet.

When you set out to improve your online rep, remember that discretion is the better part of valor. If you forge ahead full steam spewing post after post about how great you are and how wonderful your life is, even casual browsers are going to think that you’re pretty full of yourself. The trick is to showcase your better side without making it all about you. Instead, you want to highlight your accomplishments indirectly.

(2) Say nice things about others.

Begin by saying nice things about others. Write an online letter to your local newspaper describing what a positive impact they made by donating papers to your current events class and how much you learned as a result. Post a comment on the Habitat website thanking your local chapter for teaching you how to hang drywall. Email the company that makes your favorite shampoo praising their product. (Companies often post “fan mail” from satisfied customers.) Look for opportunities to pay compliments online. Saying nice things about others adds a positive sheen to your online reputation.

(3) Demonstrate your insight and intelligence.

Also, look for ways to demonstrate that you’re articulate, intelligent, and thoughtful. Participate in online forums and discussions by asking well-considered questions and posting well-reasoned responses that don’t insult or belittle other posters. Bitingly sarcastic flames might be satisfying for a minute or two after you hit enter, but ask yourself what you really think about people who make those types of posts. Would you want to hang out with them? Present yourself as a person that people would actually want to spend time with.

 (4) Promote causes you believe in.

In addition to joining groups and forums, you can create your own to promote causes you believe in. Your cause might be helping stray pets, feeding the hungry, or tutoring disadvantaged kids. Prefer to help your peers? You could create a webpage or Facebook group to help other kids learn how to be good digital citizens. You might even form an afterschool club where you meet friends in person instead of online.

(5) Don’t deliberately creep people out.

And, when it should be all about you like on your Profile page, resist the urge to deliberately creep people out. Your Friends might find it funny if you give your Interests as midnight raves, drag racing, and deep frying small animals, but the general public may not be amused. Reading historical fiction, volunteering, and playing soccer might be safer selections.

 For more information about the importance of your online reputation and how to protect it, read OwnYourSpace: An Online Reputation that Counts. 

 Copyright 2011 100 Page Press