Sometimes finding nothing can say more than you would like it to. No matter how small a business is, at very least, you should expect to see some type of an online profile in a web search that says they’re engaged with the outside world. If a company or business person has reached a certain level of success, you can safely assume you’ll find a bio, a website, or something online that tells about their career, or life so far. Finding nothing doesn’t really say nothing. In some instances, it actually says too much.
What you want people to find online is information about your professional identity. Who are you and what have you accomplished? What are your career goals? What do you really want employees, your employer, colleagues, educators, big contacts, and even your family to know about you?
There are thousands of things that can go sideways, or worse, in the online world, but anything that could possibly be construed as inappropriate, rude, mean, indecent, incriminating, or in poor taste can become a big problem. It’s not just your friends who can see this stuff — people lose important opportunities and potential relationships every day because of what others find when they search for them online.
If you’re not sure how others may interpret something about you, share it with some close friends to get their impressions. And if you find something inappropriate online, pull it down, and ask your friends to remove similar things, mentions or references from their profiles and websites as well. Write to companies that post information about you that’s too personal or erroneous. Clear the record and make a real effort to clean up your online image.
And for goodness sake, think twice before you post. Most of what we put on the internet can never really be taken down or cleaned. But with a little common sense and an eye toward having a strong and integrity-filled online reputation, you can build a name for yourself online that you can be proud of.