Sunday, 18 December 2011

Boosting reputation online

Who are you anyway?
Before the days of the internet, reputation wasn’t something you could measure easily. But now thanks to Google and LinkedIn, your reputation is very easy to see.
Vanity searches
Do this exercise now: jump onto google and do a search for your own name. What comes up first? Is there anything about you on the first page? Before I started the personal branding game, I was competing with a TV actor of the same name. There was nothing about me for the first two pages of Google. Most people are in this same category.

LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, there is a ‘recommendation’ feature that allows other people to say nice things about you. The theory is that if people are prepared to go to the effort of writing a recommendation for you, then you must have done some pretty special work. Most people have no recommendations on their profile, meaning their reputation is neutral. Really it’s worse than that because if you have no-one backing up what you say about yourself, then it looks like you’re lying! You can imagine the dialog: “Yeah right! As if he really managed 42 people.. I don’t believe him one bit!”

How to boost your online reputation
For personal branding beginners, I think the best way to improve your reputation on Google and LinkedIn is to develop a solid LinkedIn profile. You can do more advanced things like start a blog, get an about.me page, look into keyword marketing, etc. but let’s start with the basics because they deliver 80% of the benefits.
Why use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn profiles come up in google search results. If someone wants to find you, they will usually look on LinkedIn. (It’s the first thing I do when I’m meeting someone for the first time). The advantage of LinkedIn is that you control the content. Unlike a newspaper where someone could write something nasty about you and you can’t do very much about it, LinkedIn is yours to write whatever you feel like.
Despite that freedom, there’s a perception that information on LinkedIn is authentic and credible. Because it’s public and because other people can back it up via recommendations (we’ll cover that in a moment), the information on LinkedIn is generally trustworthy.

How do you use LinkedIn?
First things first, create your profile and connect with people on there. There are lots of guides on LinkedIn for that, so I won’t take up space in this post reinventing the wheel. What I will emphasise is the importance of recommendations. Recommendations are your reputation. If you have no recommendations (like most people on LinkedIn), then your profile lacks substance and people will doubt the information on your profile.

How do you get recommendations?
Let’s revisit that fundamental principle of reciprocity: to get what you want, give it out first. Therefore, to get recommendations, you must give recommendations to other people first. Stop reading this book and write recommendations for five people. I recommend you make it a weekly routine to write a recommendation for at least one person.

How to write really bad recommendations
Recommendations are a form of compliment. Given that most people are bad at giving compliments, it’s not a surprise that most people do a poor job of writing recommendations. The main reason why most people get recommendations wrong is because they’re too general. There are sites on the internet that offer a “LinkedIn Recommendation Generator” service (I’m not giving you links because it’s a terrible idea!). Here is an example of output from a generator:
Anyone who works with her can attest to her efficient and effective communication, creative thinking, professional business acumen and ethical conduct. Anna has provided great leadership and it has been a real pleasure to be professionally associated with a consummate professional like Anna! Anna is a super enthusiastic and eager to learn leader and manager. Anna is highly skilled at successfully handling Senior Management responsibilities. Anna is a proven person who does and says what she does.”
The scary thing is, a lot of humans will write recommendations like this! General recommendations are meaningless.

The computer doesn’t know a thing about Anna and it’s immediately obvious. There are no specifics. We don’t really believe that Anna is an efficient and effective communicator because the computer hasn’t provided any evidence to back it up. If I were Anna, I would feel offended to receive a recommendation like that because it’s pretty apparent that the computer doesn’t know her from a power cable!

How to write good recommendations
From this example, it’s pretty clear what you need to do to write good recommendations and give good compliments: you need to be specific. Give examples that demonstrate how and why someone is effective. These kind of recommendations are meaningful because you can only write them if you know the person well.

Ask for recommendations
Some of them will write you a recommendation back without prompting. Others need to be nudged. Send a pleasant note asking them if they could write you a recommendation. Make it easy for them and suggest some things they could include in the recommendation. It might sound a bit pushy, but in life, if you don’t ask, you don’t generally get.

What do you do to boost your reputation online?

2 comments:

repfixer said...

Your blog is very nice. I just want to say thank u and i loved to read that post.
Online Reputation Management

family office advisor said...

excellent ! what a blog i really liked it !