I have been reading a bit about this lately through various blogs and articles, including Your Virtual Brand by Meredith Farkas in American Libraries, but it all came very close to home through a couple of things that happened to me personally.
The first was news I shared on Twitter. I didn’t think much about it as my Twitter posts are protected. There was no real damage in the news, I just forgot that my Twitter feed was also going to Facebook, so the news got out to a wider audience, sooner than I had planned.
The second was about my Blogger account. Connecting Librarian used to be on Blogger, but when I decided that I wanted to do more with my blog, I created my own domain name and exported all my blog posts across to it. However, my old Blogger address still remains as a marker, referring anyone interested to the current location.
Recently, I got an email from someone I didn’t know, wanting to take over that blog address. I politely declined.
So why are either of these things a problem? Because my online reputation is important to me. Lots of people know about me and what I do through my online presences. Lots of people know me only online, having had no contact or very little contact with me in person. I have established an online reputation through my name and through the name Connecting Librarian.
Its also important to me because online is where I do the vast majority of my professional networking and I don’t want to undermine the professional relationships and more importantly, the real life friendships I have established online.
In the online world, it is extremely difficult to apologise for a mistake or to re-establish your reputation. Case in point: Catherine Deveny recently being fired from the Age for comments made on Twitter.
I know I have a reasonably good reputation online. How? Because occasionally in real life, I get chatting to or introduced to someone who says that they have friended me online through Twitter or Facebook or follow my blog. I still grin like mad when I remember that I got that sort of response from Karen Schneider when she visited for the VALA 30 year Anniversary series in 2008. I also get the odd email from someone looking for some assistance in whatever way, hoping that I can help or point them in the right direction.
So I don’t want to do anything which will seriously compromise my online reputation – such as saying something in an unwise or untimely manner, or doing something which could undermine my Connecting Librarian brand, like giving up my Blogger account.
So I have had a bit of a wake-up call about being a bit more cautious in what I share and keeping this more in the back of my mind as I deal online. I plan for this not to change what I do dramatically, just make my hopefully do so with a bit more wisdom.
So have you had any online reputation scares or offers? How do you protect your online reputation, or if you don’t, why not?