Managing your Digital Online Identity

Image source:  Phillie Casablanca
Image source: Phillie Casablanca

A few months ago, I contacted an American nonfiction author, Glenn Stout, to ask him for his first ever longform article which I was unable to locate online. He kindly agreed to post the article to me. But could you guess the first thing he did when he got an email from me – a complete stranger?

He Googled me.

How did I know that he Googled me?

Well, I noticed on my Linkedin page that he viewed my profile a few days after I sent him my email request. The second search item that comes up when you Google my name is my Linkedin page link. This was how I deduced that he Googled me. The man got a random email from a complete stranger and he wanted to know whom he was dealing with.

People are more likely to Google you before they deal with you especially if they don’t know you. This is why it is important that what they find online is what you want them to find out about you. I did introduce myself to Glenn in the email but this is no longer enough in the 21st century. I guess he was satisfied with what he saw on my Linkedin profile which made him respond to my email. I believe that if he had discovered anything unsavoury or inappropriate about me via Google then I might never have heard from him.

Most people now have some form of digital presence on the Internet. Folks are connected to the Internet using a range of technologies from PCs to smart phones. The more we use the Internet, the more we leave digital footprints. Our digital footprints are small fragments of our digital online identities.

Google has made it very easy for people to find out information about you. This is the reason why the management of your digital online identity is essential. People who don’t know you will judge you based on the information they find out about you online. Employers are now doing background checks on prospective employees by conducting Google searches on them. A lot of people are posting things online that will eventually come back to haunt them.

Don’t post anything that could tarnish your reputation in the future. Think carefully before you post anything online.

Here are some questions worth asking yourself about your digital online identity:

(1) Have you Googled yourself recently?

(2) What did you find out about yourself in the first 2 pages of the Google search results?

(3) Were you pleased with the results? If not, what steps are you taking to ensure that the positive things about you rise to the top?

(4) Do you have a strategic or scattered approach towards managing your digital online identity?

4 replies on “Managing your Digital Online Identity”

Good blog post. It seems like a no-brainer, but some people really do some stupid things online.

A number of these people are doing these stupid things based on the assumption that it will not come back to haunt them. The Internet doesn’t forget.

Prof, I absolutely appreciate this article!
I consider myself to be quite a private person and i’d like to believe I have some control over what is out there about me. Of course there might be the occasional slips, but I I hope they are very few and harmless in the long-run.
People should be more proactive and responsible about the things they choose to make public. Like you said, it can all come back to haunt one, usually at the worst time. It’s true, the internet is no respecter of person.
I ask myself ‘does this information tarnish my image or credibility?’
I have plans for my life, so this is an issue I can’t afford to compromise with. That’s why I am still very wary of popular social media sites…

Yes, Social Media sites have their benefits and pitfalls but I feel their benefits outweigh their pitfalls if used responsibly.

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