Re-thinking personal reputation

Yesterday Mike Arrington posted a story about a start-up who later this week will be launching a service that’s effectively a Yelp for individuals. 

Mr. Arringtron asks if – with the launch of these services, along with the growth of personal data online – we need to become more accepting of people’s indiscretions. It’s a worthy sentiment but of course the reality is different.

It’s already pretty easy to research people online whether using a search engine, Facebook, LinkedIn or one of the other many social services. In an environment like the internet where everyone has opinions and many aren’t shy of sharing them, managing a personal reputation becomes more difficult.

However it’s also true that managing a reputation has always been complex and it could be argued that the internet just makes it more so (Read Frank Shaw’s post: Reputation is more important than ever – some good common sense comments also). 

Valeria Maltoni had a related post over the weekend which looks at today’s reality where everyone is the “media” and everyone can share their views online.

So given it’s going to become more difficult to manage an online reputation.  What’s the answer?

Well as I wrote previously one of the ways you can manage your reputation online is by investing in it.  Be aware that before people meet you they’ll probably do some research online.  What are they finding? Engage with people online in a thoughtful manner, understand the privacy implications of your online presence.  Avoid the temptation to indulge in the knee jerk pontification that so many people seem to engage in online. (Have a read of Dave Fleet’s post today: Cut companies a break )

Yes, managing a reputation is hard.  But first and foremost you need to manage what is within your control.  The reality is that people disagree and accidents happen, but investing in yourself is a great start. Building a strong reputation has always taken time and with that investment you can deal with issues that will, no doubt, arise. This advice of course applies to organizations as well as individuals.

As always the best advice is to plan ahead.