Guest blog by Jennifer Smith
We seldom think about our reputation when we post online. Nevertheless, with each forum or chat room, we are leaving footprints for everyone to see, and anyone can reach conclusions about us. They may or may not be true, but perception is reality in the minds of readers who cannot ask us questions.
It doesn’t take many posts on a politics board for people to determine our political beliefs. It is easy to determine that we are liberal or conservative after a few posts. It is also easy to determine how well we can deal with issues. We settle them in an agreeable manner, or we may begin calling names when others disagree with us. If a prospective employer sees a post in which we have called someone a liar in capital letters, he will think twice about hiring you.
With fewer than ten posts, a prospective employer can tell how we might react to disagreements in work situations. We cannot always hide behind our anonymity because someone may eventually discover our identities. How embarrassed would that make us feel when our friends know what we have posted? Are we going to post, “I don’t like working for that incompetent bum.”?
Online reputations are as important as our workplace reputations. We want people to think that we are honest, sincere, competent and intelligent. We also want them to know that we can admit being wrong and accept defeat gracefully. These are the traits that are possessed by people who have good interpersonal skills.
If we are operating an Internet business, our reputations reach a higher level. Any business that offers a service or product must be certain that the quality of the product or service is equal to or better than the price charged. When dealing with online customers, we should treat them as though meeting their needs is the most important thing we can do. If we are concerned about our online reputation, consult people in the industry like Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com, who has extensive experience in protecting the reputations of Internet users. Not only does he provide suggestions for protecting our reputations, but he can also restore reputations that have been compromised on the Internet.
Since our reputations are the most important possession that we have, we should write every post as though our mothers were watching over our shoulders. Remember, never put in writing anything that you wouldn’t say to someone face to face!