A large part of my days are spent talking to corporate America about the importance of managing their brand online. What used to be about developing a website and then driving people to it has become a process much further encompassing, which I refer to as web optimization. Anyways, I firmly believe that as individuals we need to take the same proactive approach to monitor, control and manage our brand online. Let me tell you, myspace comments or videos of you kissing your college roommate really can hurt you on a number of levels. With that being said, I firmly believe that my online presence (my blog, my LinkedIn account and any positive PR coverage) has had a very positive impact on my personal brand.
Here's what I think one should do to manage their personal brand online:
1. Go on Google and type in your full name. I can tell you from personal experience and my blog analytics that my name gets searched hundreds of times every month. Look at what's ranking high and what you might not want people to see. Any problems there, feel free to shoot me an email and we'll figure out how to fix it.
2. Make all your social networking profiles private. Trust me, there are certain comments you just don't want to be seen by co-workers or potential employees.
3. If you're at all interested in managing your career, setup a LinkedIn Profile. It's a great way to connect with other professionals and re-connect with old friends who're now professionals. If at all possible, ask some of your past or current colleagues or bosses to write a quote about you.
4. Register your name as a domain name. Don't worry, you don't have to develop this website. But you really should own it, just so nobody else will. Especially if you're planning to run for president anytime soon. At the very least, you can own your friends' domain names and then try to sell it to them.