When was the last time you Googled yourself?
Lets pretend you’re about to meet someone important, and you want to find out more information about them.
One thing you’ll likely do is Google them – ya know, some background research.
One of the things you likely did before meeting up with them was to google that person.
Now imagine the inverse – someone else is Googling you. What will they find? Will it be information that you have a hand in creating, or do you leave it up to possible slimeballs to libel you freely?
Seeing is believing
Few things are more powerful than your reputation.
A strong reputation can open up doors and give you access with minimal effort. It’s your calling card before anyone meets you.
Be it your company’s brand or your own ‘personal brand’ (ugh I hate that phrase) – it is critical that you take control of your reputation.
Welcome to reputation management.
Defining reputation management
We’ll take Wikipedia’s definition here:
“Reputation management is the practice of attempting to shape public perception of a person or organization by influencing information about that entity.”
Why does it matter?
If you’re actually asking that, you need to re-think how you approach things.
When was the last time you read Amazon reviews? You cared about them because you implicitly trust Amazon’s reputation for honest reviews.
Ever order something from eBay (or even Amazon’s third party sellers). Did you not try to ascertain their trustworthiness with the reputation they had built?
Ever booked something on Airbnb?
We can step away from marketplaces and apply the same logic to any smaller organization or individual.
Why do companies and individuals care about social proof? Because the media publications they are listing have their own reputation, and thus by association, make them look better.
And of course not all are equal – you’re far more likely to be impressed with an individual saying they’ve been “seen in” New York Times and TIME than someone who says they were in Huffington Post and BroBible.
(Sorry guys – it’s about as NBD as possible now to be in HuffPo)
Do you trust supplement information on Examine.com equally to InsertRandomWebsite.com here?
Your reputation is a non-quantifiable entity that can be one of your most powerful assets.
So what should I do?!
Seeing is believing.
Whenever someone googles your company or you, everything that comes up on the first page should be something you helped create.
What you need to do is ensure there is content on other reputable sites to that whenever someone searches for your company/brand, they find content you have helped generate.
As an example, searching for ‘Sol Orwell’ on Google yields these top 10 results:
- Examine.com User Page
- An interview on SignalTower
Everything you see is something I had a hand in creating.
Pretend you have no clue who I am. The search results you see help formulate your understanding of who I am.
The Wikipedia page acts as a heuristic that I must have done something notable – after all, not everybody has gone.
Twitter gives you access to my thoughts (a mixture of inane irreverence + politics + food), and also another positive heuristic: I have a decent # of followers and am verified.
SJO.com then lets you see my capabilities to think and write (for better or worse).
And so forth…
Can you see how powerful this is? By the time you get to my Forbes article, you see I’ve had a modicum of success. SignalTower goes deep in on me, and my morning routine shows discipline (without obsessiveness that a lot of people have).
By the end, you’ve formulated some image on who I am. And dare I say it would be primarily positive.
That is being smart and strategic.
Control the top 10 results for your brand and yourself.
The reality of the world is that there are always slimeballs out there who want to either take you down a peg or profit off of you. It could be jealousy. It could be a misunderstanding. It could be just that they are sycophants and wish to make money off of your work.
Regardless, as a business proprietor, it is your duty to ensure that you put your best foot forward.
Take control of your reputation. If you don’t, someone else will be happy to exploit it for themselves.
Taking care of your Reputation Management
There are four steps one can take to help take control of their online reputation, in order of increasing difficulty:
1. Register on social media
Google loves ranking Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube in their search results. Facebook can be a bit of a hit or miss (Fan pages do much better than a personal page).
Even better, Google loves to expand and show your tweets, and if on YouTube, show a nice thumbnail next to the video.
It’s easy and takes all of two seconds. Go go go go.
2. Put up a site
I put this after social media because it requires a bit more effort. You don’t need anything spectacular – you can even use something super simple like wordpress.com or wix.com to just get a website up.
Again, an easy no-brainer.
3. Get on podcasts
This is my underrated tip here.
Everyone and their mom seem to have a podcast right now. Most podcasters will accept submissions on getting on their podcasts.
Start with someone who has a smaller audience, perfect your pitch, your voice, and then start getting on larger podcasts.
As an entrepreneur, you should have a story about your struggles/successes ready!
I’ve have been on dozens of podcasts – from small unknown ones to well-established ones like Smart Passive Income and Foundr.
There’s an extra benefit to getting on podcasts – you develop links to your website, and based on what you guys talk about, the podcast page itself can start ranking for other phrases.
For example, if you search for ‘sol orwell seo’ you find a podcast I was on, my LinkedIn profile, and then a few more podcasts before you find my SEO category page on SEO.
4. Submit content
The final step is to start contributing your thoughts and ideas to other publications.
This one is a bit harder, as it requires work and having relationships built – these kinds of websites are tougher to get on to.
At the most basic level are guest posts. You find someone willing to accept content you write, and voila – there’s your name on the piece.
Some sites collect interviews (like my #10 result – My Morning Routine), and you can ask to submit. You can also just look up someone who has been on it and ask for an introduction.
To get more advanced, you can use something like HARO to get yourself on journalists’ radar – being quoted can give a bit of heft to your own pages. The goal here is to get a link to your page, not even necessarily to have it be the story
The next step is to have a story written about you.
After I wrote for Men’s Health on how I lost 50+lb while eating cookies, a bunch of journalists I know ran with it.
The final step is to contribute to magazines and other media organizations.
My buddy Sujan wrote a great guide on how to pitch to organizations.
Regarding reputation, searching for someone and then seeing that they are contributors to major media organizations sets them up as a “thought leader” (ugh I hate that phrase too).
A great example is my buddy Chris Winfield. If you search for him, the top 10 results include his author page for Business Insider, Inc, Entrepreneur.com, and TIME.
That is impressive.
Four steps to control your reputation:
- Get on social media
- Get a website
- Get on podcasts
- Contribute content
Manage your reputation… or someone else will.
In many ways, your reputation management is a zero-sum game. If you don’t take care of it, someone else will be happy to fill that void.
Follow the above steps, and you’ll be ahead of the curve.
And when you’re ready to level it up, use reputation management to answer questions peopel are already looking for about you…
This is just the beginning...
My next article is on a more advanced (and hilarious extension) of reputation management.
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