Whether you’re interviewing for a job, running a business, or just dating; the first thing anyone does is Google you.
Do you know what digital dirt is out there on you? It could be a bad business review, a blog or a former disgruntled co-worker making online comments. Your name is your reputation, online or not.
“Today on the internet, anyone can say anything that they want so basically they can damage your reputation,” says Louse Rijk, who works at Advanced Media Productions in Natick. Her company creates a positive online presence for its clients.
“Online you can represent yourself very, very well if you really get that message out,” Rijk says.
Sometimes negative comments can mask that message. One strategy is to deal with them head on, in the same stream. “You need to tell people how you’re addressing it. That’s the power of like Twitter, is really acknowledge something happens. Life’s not perfect and to address it head on and say ‘We’re investigating it, thanks for the information.’,” Rijk says.
When it comes to negative feedback, experts say you can ignore it, hire a lawyer, or just email the site itself, and ask to have the negative information taken down. If you really want to control your image, they say you need to take action.
“You can set up a blog, you can set up a Twitter stream, a Facebook page, a Linkedin page, and those pages will start coming up and push down the information,” Rijk says.
To protect their digital image, people are turning to online sites like Reputationdefender.com . Depending on how much you pay, it works to wipe out the negative comments. The site also pads the web with friendly information, and pushes it to the top of search engine results.
“They see what you think they should see. They see what you deserve to have them see,” says Michael Fertik, owner of Reputationdefender.com. Fertik says the company can change search results, and stop sites from gathering private information.
“We block that data from being collected. We take you out of databases we don’t want you to be in and we give you control over your digital reputation,” Fertik says.
The fees run anywhere from $4.95 monthly, to as much as $599 a year, depending on what you want. For those who have someone who share the same name as you, to avoid any cases of mistaken identity, it even has a plan for what it calls, “dopplenamers”.
Experts say, overall, push your positive image and at the very least, try to knock the negative feedback far off page one. After all, your name is your digital reputation.