Managing your internet reputation

I was on Radio 5 briefly yesterday morning, talking about how this blog helped me get my job, to support a piece they were doing on a piece of research released by a client of my agency, Viadeo, looking at NetReps, or your ‘net reputation’. You can listen again to the piece here (until Tuesday 3 April), although you’ll need the dread RealPlayer and to zip through to 1h 56minutes through the stream. The research report from Viadeo is available here.

My story is that, when I was applying for jobs in hi-tech media agencies, having a blog about “technology, media, stuff and nonsense” helped demonstrate my passion for and knowledge of the industry to prospective employers, including the guys who hired me at Brands2Life. The discussion, curtailed by the pace of breakfast radio, went on to look at the possibility of faked or negative testimonials and what they might entail, and the whole thing raised the question of how you manage your internet reputation, an issue examined in the Viadeo report.

There were a few other angles that the BBC producer talked through with me before the show. For example, does the fact that people are Googling me bother me, from a privacy perspective? No: of course not, you put it out there, you gotta expect people to find it. Given how expensive it can be to recruit people, the recruitment process (certainly in my industry) is as thorough as it can be. That said, prospective employers looking at my StalkFacebook profile, for example, will probably take little from knowing that I like Tenacious D or think that Transformers: the Movie was cool.

Another issue that was raised on the programme was how to manage negative comments or posts. Having borne witness to several internet slagging matches and the sheer lunacy that is going on right now with the death threats etc, I can see how it would be a concern. Identity online is a complex issue and there are few straightforward ways of dealing with this: even with things like OpenID there are few obvious ways to conclusively demonstrate who you are. That said, the web is increasingly a community and a conversation so hopefully, over time, you’ll develop a NetRep and identity that is unmistakably your own.

All interesting stuff. Do social business networks help address the issue of managing your internet reputation? Let me know what you think. And if you want to add me on Viadeo, or Facebook (and I really know who you are, either in person or virtually), then please go ahead.