9 Tips to Effectively Manage your Online Reputation

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
~Warren Buffett~

Blake was about to submit his resume for several open positions. As he was Googling, he came across some unsettling articles on how bosses look at candidates’ social media. Before he applied, he decided to make sure his online reputation wasn’t working against him. And he was glad he did—he found old photos from wild college parties on his Facebook account, and some ancient blog posts sharing way too much detail about his personal life.

According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of bosses screen job candidates’ social media profiles before hiring them. In 2016, it was 60%—that’s an increase of 10 percentage points in one year. There’s a good chance your boss, or a future one, will Google you.

Don’t let them find pictures of you drunk at a party doing something stupid. Careful online reputation management will ensure they see only your best image. Here’s how to do it.

GO ON THE DEFENSIVE:

  1. Google yourself. The first step in cleaning up your online image is to find out what potentially embarrassing items are out there. Google yourself and see not only what sites come up, but what photos come up as well. If the sites and photos are harmless, then you’re in the clear. If not, you have some Internet housecleaning to do. Then sign up for Google alerts so every time your name appears online in the future, you’ll see it.
  2. Set your online privacy. If you have some less-than-professional photos on Facebook, be sure to use the privacy filters Facebook offers. You can set your photos so only you see them, only your friends and their friends see them, or only certain people see them, instead of the general public.Your preferences on Flickr and other photo-sharing sites should always be set to private as well, unless you have a good reason for making them public. Err on the conservative side with possibly inappropriate photos and limit them to only your closest friends. Better yet, remove them completely.
  3. Untag yourself. Oftentimes the most embarrassing photos aren’t the ones we’ve posted of ourselves; they’re the ones we can thank our fun-loving friends for. If your friends tag you in a photo, untag yourself. This way, even though that picture of you kissing a duck on New Year’s Eve is out there, it’s not associated with you specifically. The chance of someone even coming across it then drops exponentially.
  4. Request to have material removed. If your compromising blog post has been cross-posted on another site, you could ask the webmaster to remove it. If the site tends to post controversial commentary and scathing critiques, however, you might want to let sleeping dogs lie. Stirring the pot could bring unwanted attention.
  5. Reevaluate the groups you belong to. Unless you’re willing to risk potentially losing out on an employment opportunity for your beliefs, remove yourself from any borderline extreme or offensive groups. Again, this is the first impression an employer may have about you. Don’t turn them off with intolerance or morally or legally questionable groups.

TAKE INITIATIVE TO BUILD YOUR REPUTATION:

  1. Only make posts that align with your personal brand. Remember, you can’t unring the Internet bell if you post an inappropriate status update, comment, or blog post. Strong management of your online reputation means choosing every piece of content wisely. Before hitting “Post,” think twice about what you’re sending. Is it something that could be taken negatively if a future employer were to see it? Or does it develop a personal brand as someone who is a pro in their field?Remember, employers may see these posts before having a chance to get to know you. This could be your only chance to make a first impression. Make it positive! Share tips based on your expertise, showing you’re not only skilled but also generous with your knowledge. Share your accomplishments, too!
  2. Join new social media sites. Sign up for an account with Google+, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, especially those used for professional networking. If you already have such accounts, update your profile (you should be doing this at least once a year) and link to all your contacts in your network. Using Hootsuite will let you manage up to three social media profiles in the same place, pre-scheduling posts to save time.
  3. Start a website. There may be things on the Internet that you simply cannot clean up. However, you can create new material that will push these older items down the search engine results. Purchase a website with your name and create a positive site with exactly the brand you want to have at work. Start a blog, using your name, and post positive content that highlights your knowledge and abilities. Use strong SEO terms to boost your site in the search results. Fill the Internet with positive, current content about you, and the negative material will be less likely to be found.
  4. Get on Twitter. Following organizations and individuals that are respected in your field on Twitter will also help you build a positive online presence. Share useful articles on professional development and topics related to your field.

If your online reputation is really in dire straits, hiring an online reputation management professional might be in order. For most of us, however, a little legwork will do the trick. As you continue putting positive media out there, those old photos or posts will soon become a distant memory.

Here are 8 more tips on how to change the perception others have of you. As an executive coach, Joel Garfinkle is often hired to help leaders to learn how to manage their perceptions that others have of them so they can more easily move into higher levels of management.

Self-Defeating Behavior

“Those who say life is knocking them down and giving them a tough time are usually the first to beat themselves up. Be on your own side.”
~Rasheed Ogunlaru~

As Jeremy prepared to give performance reviews for his employees, he was struck by this realization: Most of their shortcomings had nothing at all to do with ability. Rather, they were engaging in various forms of self-sabotage. They were all bright enough and quite talented—often they astounded him with their insights—but they were tripping themselves up with self-defeating behavior.

Self-defeating behavior holds all of us back at some point. For some, it can sabotage promotions or careers. To overcome your self-defeating behavior, or to help your employees overcome theirs, first pinpoint what’s going on. These are some of the most common forms of self-sabotage—chances are, you’ve engaged in many of these at one time or another.

  1. Dominating Conversations
    You might think everyone’s listening raptly to your boundless ideas. Think again. If you’re talking over others and constantly directing the conversation, you’re not acting as either a good leader or team member.
  2. Avoiding Risks
    Many of us engage in catastrophic thinking about potential risks (and failure often isn’t as scary as we think). Steering clear of risks means you’ll never achieve sweeping successes. If you lack trust in your own judgement about what risks are worthwhile, bring your ideas to your supervisor or mentor before you dive in head-on.
  3. Procrastinating
    Most of us have procrastinated at some point. If you’re dreading a particular task, find ways to make it more manageable. If it’s complicated, make an outline showing how you’ll tackle it. If it’s tedious, decide to spend a fixed amount of time on it each day, and then move on.
  4. Shying Away from Difficult Conversations
    Difficult conversations don’t get easier if you put them off—in fact, the reverse is true. Try to look at them as an opportunity for growth. Go into them with a sense of empathy for the other person, truly trying to understand her perspective. You might be surprised at what you both learn. If you want to learn more, read Practical Tactics for Crucial Communication.
  5. Having Tunnel Vision
    Having tunnel vision is a common form of self-sabotage, say Phillip J. Decker and Jordan Paul Mitchell in Self-Handicapping Leadership. This means focusing so narrowly on one task or role that you can’t see the big picture. Think of the angry boss who is so preoccupied with finishing a task that he yells at everyone who approaches him. He doesn’t see that his attitude toward others has a lasting effect on relationships and workplace culture.
  6. Taking Work Home
    If you’re taking work home, you’re decreasing your mental clarity at work. You might think that the more time you put into work, the more you’ll get done. Wrong. There’s a point at which you need to recharge—give yourself that time.
  7. Not Delegating Enough
    Needing to do or control everything yourself wastes your time and tells people you don’t trust them. Micromanaging is one form of not delegating enough—because if you’re watching someone under a microscope, you haven’t truly delegated the work.
  8. Failing to Ask for Feedback
    Fear of feedback keeps people from growing. You might be afraid to hear others’ opinions about you, or you might fear being seen as someone who needs advice. However, everyone needs advice—even executives! Whatever your shortcomings are, remember that in a few short months you could be well on your way to overcoming them—if you ask for feedback.

These three steps will help you banish self-defeating behavior:

  • Identify your triggers. Know when the behavior arises, so you can consciously nip it in the bud.
  • Create systems of support. Figure out who you can turn to for advice or affirmation, and tell them what you’re working on overcoming.
  • Determine steps you can take to set a new pattern. Envision the behavior you want to engage in. Write notes for yourself as reminders.

Beware of one pitfall: Coping with one self-defeating behavior by replacing it with another, say Phillip and Mitchell. This tendency is all too common, they warn, giving the example of someone who avoids getting angry by steering clear of conflict. Asking for feedback from someone you trust can help make sure you’re truly addressing the behavior.

Jeremy helped his employees to grasp how they were getting in their own way. Together, they discussed steps to take in order to break out of these harmful patterns. For instance, the employee who was taking work home all the time decided to set more realistic deadlines. The employee who never took risks decided to run creative ideas by her team to see if they gained buy-in. Most importantly, by showing them that they aren’t the only ones who engage in self-defeating behavior, Jeremy helped foster a culture where employees can talk about these issues. As a result, they had a stronger system of support for overcoming them.

As an executive coach, Joel constantly is supporting his clients overcome self-defeating behaviors that are holding back their career.

Is your Salary Negotiable?

“The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn’t even thought of – and then meet it.”
~Eli Broad~

Nora received a job offer for the position of her dreams. She was ecstatic. She wasn’t even focused on the salary. Fortunately, she shared the news with one of her mentors, who had also been her very first boss. “Don’t accept without a negotiation,” her mentor advised her. He shared these statistics about salary from a recent Glassdoor survey:

  • Three of five employees do not negotiate their salary.
  • Women are less likely than men to negotiate—68% of women vs. 52% of men abstain from negotiating. This is a shame, because salary is almost always negotiable.
  • When men negotiate their salary, they’re over three times more likely than women to succeed. This may stem in part from confidence—men tend to have an easier time asking for what they want—though that’s not to dismiss the impact of sexism. However, it’s getting better: The gender gap is much lower for younger workers than for older ones.
  • Older workers as a whole are also less likely to negotiate salary. As younger employees set the pace for negotiations, the older generations would be well advised to keep up—with their experience, they’re likely settling for less than they could have.

Here are 4 steps to succeeding in your next salary negotiation so you can Get Paid What You’re Worth.

  1. Build Up Your Confidence
    Having confidence is crucial to salary negotiation. Knowing the interviewer expects you to negotiate should give you a confidence boost. Remember that the raises you get down the road will depend on your starting salary.Mentally prepare your spiel about your track record of success. Get ready to cite the specific results of projects you handled in your current or previous role. If you’re asking for a raise from your current boss, prepare to discuss your successes as thoroughly as you would for an interview. Rehearse with a friend to make your answers as eloquent as possible.
  2. Do Your Research
    Whether accepting a new position or asking your current boss for a raise, find out the typical salary range for your position in your geographical area. Remember, this could have changed in recent years. When you’re knowledgeable about salary ranges, you’ll feel much more confident making an offer. Consider the current state of the industry, too. Was it struggling when you accepted your position, but now flourishing? That gives you plenty of room to negotiate.
  3. Hold Off on a Number
    Try not to be the first to put forth a number, says Michael Zwell in Six Figure Salary Negotiation. If asked about your expectations, try to give a less specific answer, such as “My expectations are in line with my experience and abilities,” he adds.If forced to give an answer, factor all the benefits you would like into the number, says Roger Dawson in Secrets of Power Salary Negotiation. Such benefits may include potential work bonuses, health insurance, retirement plan, vacations, and tuition reimbursement.

    If you’re switching careers, request the chance to renegotiate after six months, says Zwell. This gives you a window of time to prove yourself in the new role, and then to request more than you could have initially.

  4. Use Leverage
    If you’re applying for a new position, indicate that you’re considering another offer, says Dawson. At the same time, signal some degree of flexibility about salary. Highball your target salary, but say something like, “I might be able to take a little less,” he suggests. Know the company is almost certainly lowballing you if they make an offer—they expect you to make a higher counteroffer.

As Zwell says, if you’re negotiating with a current employer, you won’t be terminated for aiming much too high, whereas with a prospective employer, it’s possible you could lose the opportunity. However, aiming much too high with your current employer could signal that you’re unhappy with your position, he asserts.

If you’re offered a promotion within your company, remember that salary is negotiable here as well. Bring up the salary question with your potential new boss, not your current one, says Zwell. If made an offer, don’t be afraid to make a counteroffer. Consider what they’d have to pay a new hire, as well as the value added from your familiarity with the company.

Most importantly, have patience. The salary negotiation process can take a little time, and not settling on an offer too soon can benefit you over your entire career.

Negotiate in person if at all possible, says Dawson. It shows you’re serious and gives you a chance to respond to questions as they arise. Ask the company to put your agreement in writing, he adds. This eliminates any misunderstanding, especially when factoring in the benefit and compensation packages. Remember, the company is typically as eager as you to reach a mutually agreeable salary and move on!

If you want to get paid what you’re worth, utilize Joel’s Salary Negotiation Coaching.

Unplug from Technology!

“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.”
~Gretchen Rubin~

Vincent found himself obsessively scanning email when he was trying to focus on other tasks. Incoming communications were dominating his focus. Then he picked up a book on time management and realized how much time he was wasting.

Being constantly responsive to others’ questions is a huge energy drain, the author said. Most of us don’t truly multitask well, so if you’re constantly connected, you’re disrupting the task you were trying to focus on.

If, like Vincent, you’re staying too connected, consider these tips for unplugging from technology after work or even during the workday.

  1. Understand Why It’s So Tough
    To benefit from time away from tech, you need to understand why it can be hard to unplug. Sometimes we put much more weight on others’ needs than on our own. If we know an email is sitting there waiting to be addressed, we feel guilty, even if we’re doing something important.We may also get FOMO—fear of missing out. We might want to think of ourselves as superstars, being the ones to jump in and solve problems as they arise. However, the urge to save the day for others can keep them from solving problems themselves. The world can get along without you for a while—and it might be better off for it.
  2. Taking Breaks During the Workday
    Try taking mini breaks from technology during work. Leave your email behind when you go to lunch, or handle only personal communications on your breaks—nothing work-related. Better yet, read a book and ignore all electronic communication during that time.
  3. Mentally Unplug
    Unplug from certain types of communication during times you’ve committed to a particular task. Maybe you can’t leave behind technology, but unplugging mentally from email and your phone while researching an idea or writing a proposal will improve your focus. Finishing that project you’ve been wanting to dive into? Set aside an hour or two of text-free, voicemail-free, email-free time while you work. It’s too easy to get distracted by someone’s “urgent” question, or to forget to answer it later if you’ve already opened the email. If you simply don’t check email for an hour while finishing your project, you’ll be able to address it with a clear mind after that.
  4. Set Rules for Using Tech at Work and Home
    At work, set designated times for checking email and responding to voicemails. This will help you stay disciplined, making you more productive.When you leave the office, set aside all work-related communications until the next day. Period. Don’t open an email with the intent just to read it, not to respond. That will only cloud your mind with questions to stew over. You’ll come to work with renewed clarity and motivation if you allow yourself to have true downtime.
  5. Take a Tech Detox
    If you have trouble not looking at work emails while at home, it might be time for a tech detox. If you can, take a “tech fast” for a day or two over the weekend, fully unplugging from all technology. Ignore all texts, unless a real emergency pops up, and don’t even think about looking at email. Spend time with your family and friends, or on your hobbies.Check out mentally from any work-related issues. There’s no sense in mulling over a problem when you’ll come in with better ideas on Monday if you simply let your worries go. Listen to “How to Unplug at Work and Be on Vacation?” This 8-minute podcast interview was with Montreal, Canada’s #1 News Talk Radio Station.

Using these tips, Vincent was able to better structure his workday and accomplish what he set out to achieve. Once he started resisting the urge to check email every ten minutes, the urge became less powerful. At home, he enjoyed a richer family life and caught up on more reading. Best of all, his mind felt clearer, and he felt a renewed sense of purpose both at work and at home.

As an executive coach, Joel can help you unplug from technology so you actually boost your productivity and gain work-life balance.

Personal Branding at Work

“An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.”
~Daniel J. Boorstin~

Stella went out for drinks with a few coworkers after work. Over their conversation, she realized they had no clue what she did or what value she contributed. If she was that invisible to colleagues, she knew she must be invisible to leaders as well. She hopped on the phone with me to discuss how she could revamp her image at work.

Individuals, like companies, have a brand, I told Stella. Those who are proactive at shaping their own brand identity are more likely to be recognized and to get ahead in the workplace.

I then asked her to complete a simple exercise that I recommend to my clients. If you’re working to hone your personal branding at work, complete this exercise yourself:

List the three adjectives that best describe how you’re perceived by others at work.

1) _______________________
2) _______________________
3) _______________________

Next, pick three adjectives that you would like others—especially your boss and key decision-makers—to use to describe you.

1) _______________________
2) _______________________
3) _______________________

Now, here’s the tricky part (but it can be fun, too):

Develop specific, actionable strategies to move your brand identity from list #1 to list #2. This might involve training opportunities, volunteering for special assignments, or even changing your body language or how you dress. Make sure the appearance you project reflects the image you want to create.

1)_______________________
2)_______________________
3)_______________________

For example, if one of your desired brand attributes is “creative,” look for opportunities to showcase your creativity at work. Then grow your personal brand by pitching an inventive new project or consistently offering your creativity in group efforts. Prepare to advocate for your ideas by explaining what they offer to the company—brainstorm on this with someone you trust first if need be.
Finding ways to add value to others’ projects in order to highlight your desired brand attributes is another way to make sure they take notice. Meet with them to discuss what they’re doing, and then make a pitch about how you can help.

As a publishing editor at a magazine, Stella wanted others to perceive her as savvy about bringing in the best talent. Innovation and ability to thrive under pressure were the other two key attributes she most wanted to play up. Currently, she believed others perceived her as highly accurate and organized, along with having strong communication skills—certainly all important qualities in an editor, but, well, pretty boring on their own.

Stella decided to pitch a special issue on a controversial topic, along with a design idea they’d never tried before. Her team loved it, and they hit a new record for copies sold. By revamping her image, Stella increased the success of the whole company.

Reaching out to influencers in your organization can help you make the most of such victories. According to a recent Nielsen survey, the opinions of people we trust are what influence us most when it comes to branding. Use this to your advantage with personal branding. Shifting how you’re perceived by a few key people with strong credibility can turn the tide for your career. Stella’s victory was so visible that leaders couldn’t help but notice, but you might need to make a call, send an email, or drop by an office to share what you’ve accomplished.

Crafting your own distinctive brand won’t happen overnight. But your personal branding strategy will work in due time, if you’re persistent. When you take your “brand manager” role seriously, you’ll be surprised at the difference you can make in achieving your career goals.

Contact Joel, as your leadership coach, to help craft your own distinctive brand.