The Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s fun, fast-paced, easy to maneuver, and allows you to be your own content creator and publisher—in an instant. But with all the fun things you can do, it can also be the bane of your business existence.

Every day, at least one of my clients comes to me wanting to know how to handle bad things said about them online—reputation management.  You have several choices as to how you handle “statements made against your interest” or statements, which defame your company reputation and/or online reputation:

  • You can ignore them—hoping they’ll go away;
  • You can pretend you don’t care—but that will last until the next statement is published; or
  • You can join the conversation and influence it, but either way…

The Internet is a lot like Las Vegas, in that – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  Likewise, what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet—it never goes away.  With that in mind, the best you can do is influence the conversation.  Here are a few things you can do to help yourself if you find your company reputation and/or your online reputation being tarnished by others online:

  1. What are they saying? Know what people are saying about you and your business. One of the best tools I’ve found for staying on top of the Me-news is Google Alerts. Set up an alert for both your name and your company name.
  2. Influence the conversation. Set up online profiles with photos (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and keep them updated with information that you’ve created.  Make YOU the first stop and the best source of information about you.  And don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you don’t update your profile, it won’t get done. The truth is, there is information about each of us on the Internet that we had nothing to do with being there, so you might as well influence it in whatever way you can.
  3. Aim for the Top … of the List that is. Engage in conversation often and invest in optimizing your website, your profiles, your tweets, and your blog posts.  Make sure when someone enters your name into the Internet that they see what you want them to see—first!   You want your content to show up on the first page of a Google or Bing search.
  4. Engage in conversation appropriately.  Be prepared to respond to anything negative said about you and/or make the most of any positive content. But be careful not to overreact.  Think before you respond.
  5. Give the whole picture.  When negative comments are published, be prepared to offer a side of the story that they missed.  It’s easy for people to take information out of context because they don’t have all the facts.  Provide that context in a simple, yet non-braggadocios way.  Present the full picture by sharing your career achievements and successes, just keep it within reason.
  6. Develop a thick skin. After all, when you have truly done everything you can do to help yourself, the final piece is to let go.  Early in my life, I learned a good lesson—after I’ve done all the footwork that I could conceivably do, then I need to let go and let God.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward. Join my conversation at http://www.facebook.com/Francineward.

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