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If you run a business, you know about how the importance of concepts like integrity, fairness, and customer service can affect your company’s reputation.
You also know that it’s important for you to display appropriate conduct in non-business settings if you want to establish a strong personal reputation.
You may be even be aware of how a negative personal reputation can adversely impact your business’s reputation.
But what about your online reputation?
Can that have a negative effect on your company as well?
Your online reputation is defined as the perceptions of others based on what they see about you on the Internet.
As such, one’s online reputation may or may not resemble their personal or business reputation.
Nevertheless, it would be foolhardy to assume that an online reputation holds no consequences outside of cyberspace.
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Define the Blurry Lines
Before the creation of the information superhighway, the boundaries between one’s personal and professional reputation were a bit more solid.
That was largely because people generally only cared about one or the other, depending on whether their relationships were business or personal.
Today, anyone get learn a wealth of information about an individual with just a few minutes’ worth of searching on the Internet.
As a result, they tend to weigh the information they receive from the Web when they are formulating an opinion about either a person or a company – regardless of whether there is a logical connection between one’s online reputation and his or her work.
That’s why it’s often unwise to promote your personal views on public websites if you own a company.
If your opinions are incendiary, they may turn off potential customers from ever engaging your services.
Even if your opinions are not out of the mainstream, they could still offend a significant portion of consumers and ultimately impact your bottom line.
Examples of these types of opinions include:
- religious views or affiliations
- active endorsements of political candidates
- views on controversial issues (like immigration, welfare, guns, drugs, etc.)
- membership in race-based organizations
- ties to groups or organizations that have a negative perception in the media
Monitor Your Online Reputation
It’s even possible for you to have a negative online reputation and not know it.
That’s why it’s important to monitor all of your online accounts pertaining to everything from social media to dating to community involvement.
If someone decides to paint you in a negative light, you may not be made aware of it until it starts hurting your business if you don’t practice effective online reputation management strategies.
This is especially true if you are an independent contractor or businessperson (like a realtor, accountant, or writer). Companies or individuals who engage your services will want to know that they can trust you, and any red flag raised by your online reputation may be enough for them to eliminate you from consideration and/or take their business elsewhere.
It’s easy to dismiss your perception in cyberspace as something that is inaccurate and inconsequential.
But people who own companies that depend on image to attract clients and maintain a customer base ignore their online reputations at their own peril.
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Chris Martin is a freelance writer about topics ranging from business strategy to entrepreneurship to corporate finance solutions.
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