Developing and Maintaining a Positive Digital Footprint

Your online reputation is your new first impression. No longer are the days where a potential employer or new acquaintance first find out information about you in your initial face-to-face interaction. Your first impression is a Google search away.

A digital footprint is unlike any other footprint known to man. It can be accessed anywhere by anyone, and lasts a lifetime and beyond. One of the unfortunate things about a digital footprint is that the information about you is not always accurate and is often very hard to get rid of.

In order to develop and maintain a positive digital footprint, I recommend the following ten things:

1. Use a search engine such as Google to research information about yourself. Make sure you do multiple searches that includes information from each phase of your life (ie – name & hometown, name & employer, name & school) (Social Networking, n.d)

2. After a general search using Google, log-out of all Social Media sites and search the sites you have a profile on to view what is observable to the public. (Henry, 2012)

3. If you find any information that does not exude the reputation you are looking to have, see what you can do to fix it. This may mean contacting friends or internet sites to get information taken down. (Chandler, 2010)

4. Set strict privacy measures on your social media sites. Only allow your profile to be public if you are only sharing information you want anyone to see. Even if that anyone is an identity thief.  (Shah, 2012)

5. Keep private things private, but assume nothing online is fully private. (Adams, 2013)

6. The internet never forgets. Even though a website may no longer be in service, you can still view cached copies that Google stores long after. (Chandler, 2010)

7. In order for people to find you online, you need to be consistent. Use the same name, email and username in order to continue to build your brand.(Shah, 2012)

8. Buy your domain name. Even if you can’t get your exact name, you can get something close enough that will work. (Henry, 2012)

9. Blog anonymously and vent wisely. If you are going to write unprofessional information online, make sure you are using  (Social Networking & Online Image, n.d)

10. Use the internet to your advantage. Even though things can go wrong, the benefits greatly outweigh the consequences. (Hill, 2014)

Resources

Adams, S. (2013, March 14). 6 Steps To Managing Your Online Reputation. Forbes. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/03/14/6-steps-to-managing-your-online-reputation/

Chandler, N. (2010, October 5). HowStuffWorks “10 Tips for Maintaining a Professional Image Online”. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://money.howstuffworks.com/10-tips-for-maintaining-professional-image-online.htm

Henry, A. (2012, November 28). How to Clean Up Your Online Presence and Make a Great First Impression. Lifehacker. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://lifehacker.com/5963864/how-to-clean-up-your-online-presence-and-make-a-great-first-impression

Shah, S. (2012, November 8). Build a positive professional online presence – The Times of India. The Times of India. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/work/Build-a-positive-professional-online-presence/articleshow/11872412.cms

Social Networking. (n.d.). University of Minnesota. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.cehd.umn.edu/career/networking/social/

Social Networking & Online Image. (n.d.). . Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.up.edu/showimage/show.aspx?file=23633

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One thought on “Developing and Maintaining a Positive Digital Footprint

  1. Chris, I love point number 7. As I was tracking my own digital footprint, I realized that within the last ten years, I have had five different email addresses that I have used to sign up for accounts and collaborate with. When I searched each one, different information appeared, so it appears I may have a fractured foot making my digital footprints! That is going to make keeping track of everything a little more difficult, at least until I get unsubscribed from sites in which I used the older email addresses! Great tips!

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