A business acquaintance of mine recently told me a story that illustrates the reality of life in this digital age. He met with a potential vendor for his business and vaguely recognized one of the salespeople. He had met her before but couldn’t place her, so after the meeting he Googled her name. The first search result that appeared was her arrest record. Needless to say, that vendor did not get his business.
Personal brand management is a hot topic these days for good reason. Public records, hidden cameras and identity theft are real, ever-present and here to stay. Unfortunately, this impacts more than just personal reputation. Your employees’ reputations can damage your company’s reputation, quietly and without you even knowing it.
As business executives, we must consult employees about the importance of personal branding and online reputation management. You and every employee—especially any employee with a customer-facing role—need to keep tabs on what appears in name-based Google searches. If there is a serious problem with negative results, you should look into a service like Reputation.com to get those results off of page-one search results.
Work with your Communications and/or Human Resources departments to create educational materials or training on personal branding, and how to manage it. This training should include lessons on controlling online privacy to make sure personal interactions (on places like Facebook and Twitter) don’t spill over into professional online personas.
Make sure executive leadership also attends. It is more likely that people will conduct searches on executive leaders than lower-level employees, so be sure that your leaders have a sparkling clean online reputation. Your company’s reputation depends on it!
Howard Shore is an executive leadership consultant and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at [phone link=”true”] or email him.