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The Internet is a dangerous place in more ways that one. We have all read stories of employers coming across disparaging remarks written by employees or employers using social media to check on potential employees. Reputation management has become an important issue for both businesses and individuals and the focus is not just on what others say. Your own words are just as important.

One of the worst aspects of the Internet has been the amount of online dishonesty perpetrated over the years. The result now is that people will often check Google or Facebook before making friends online. Trust has become the number one issue when doing business, and again, reputations are the key factor.

It does raise a number of questions. For example, if I did a search on your name, business, or brand right now, do you know what I would find? If not, then you have no idea how the online world is affecting your reputation. A second question – what are you doing to protect your reputation?

There are a number of ways in which you could manage your reputation. One method suggests filling the front page of the search engines with your data, often in the form of social media profiles. But then, what of social media? What is being said there? Reputation management starts at home and there are three key areas that you need to consider.

What you say РWhat you say online can and will be used against you. For example, if you condemn someone, or another product, you had better be right. If you are wrong, or if people consider your comment to be in poor taste, then your reputation is going to fall.  These days, you have to be careful about what you say in jest as well.

What you do – Customer service has once again become an important consideration – provide a good customer experience and they will return, often with their friends.

How you respond –¬† When individuals raise issues publicly, you need to be sensitive to the fact that the problem is in public. Others will, over time, see your responses. With that in mind, you need to be positive and need to be seen to be trying to resolve the issues in a friendly manner. If they get nasty while you remain positive and in resolution mode, your reputation should remain strong.

Reputation management focuses on what you do, what you say, and what others say. You can manage the first two while working to reduce the third.

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