Growing up, I can remember my parents harping and nagging me all the time about the importance of protecting my reputation. At the time, I thought it was just something for them to say to keep me from having a good time. Being young and stupid, I never thought who I was and what I did then would have any effect on my life now. Boy was I wrong! Things might have been different, if I had moved to another state or even another town, but I live and work in the same place I grew up. Everyone knows everyone and all of their “business.” Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Ah, my parents were right. Again. When will that ever end?
Now, to be clear, we are not talking about character. Character and reputation are two very different things. A simple definition of reputation is the general opinion or judgment of the public about a person or a thing. Reputations can be enhanced and/or destroyed every day.
A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was. – Joseph Hall
My newest endeavor has been evaluating all things social media. Social media and reputation go hand-in-hand. Individuals are as much of a brand as any company. Now, some of us are more of a generic brand than others, but we are a brand nevertheless. All the pictures, posts, and comments become a cumulative picture of what people think of – when they think of you. It is all about what you put out there. Scary, huh? I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I have coined a new social media term, overshare! Maybe the angry post about that now insignificant matter loses its luster in the light of day. Maybe we should keep some of our feelings to ourselves. I’m learning this lesson… it’s hard NOT to share when your life is so exciting!
Are you in a hurry now? Want to get to your Facebook page to start deleting things… Well, that’s the thing about the Internet. Once it is out there, you may never get it back. Reputation is forever. FOREVER. It cannot be deleted… Buried maybe, revamped maybe, but not deleted. It has always bothered me that anyone can say anything about anybody. They can lie, fabricate, and invent whatever they want, and it will forever change the way people think about you. Even the people that know you will always have that comment, that rumor, in their head. It makes it all the more important to always watch what you say. It affects your image as much as it does theirs.
Never make negative comments or spread rumors about anyone. It depreciates their reputation and yours. – Brian Koslow
I say all of that to tell you about my latest experiment. I encourage all of you to try this at home. Do you know what the Internet says about you? It’s easy to find out. Google it. Google yourself, that is. Don’t be shy. Other people are doing it. Applying for a job? Yep, they’re googling you. Meet a new friend? You Betcha! Got a date? For sure! You have been google’d.
So what were my results? Unfortunately, not nearly as impressive as I’d hoped, but thankfully, none of my past arrests or current warrants appeared. (I’m Kidding!!)
First try: Leia Hill. Huh, not much on the first page. The very first link was to Facebook, and I was the leader in the charts, but that may be due to cookies and tracking information on my computer. I wasn’t listed again until the second page, 7th link down. There you finally find me, or at least you find my blog, livinglifeasleia.com. The interesting thing here, is that I’ve only had a blog since early September…it makes me wonder if you would have found me if I hadn’t started it for class.
Second try: Leia Hill Meridian MS. Much better. The whole page was me. The second page, too. It had Facebook links, several of my most recent blog links, articles about the work I did at MCC, articles from the paper and television station, it linked to my graduation from Leadership Lauderdale, and had lots and lots of links to people finders… A lot of the images were of me too.
Third try: Leia Agnew Hill Meridian MS. Again, just two pages. Actually, it produced a little less, about a page and a half, than just searching Leia Hill.
I also searched my email address. The results were about the same, since my personal email is associated with my social media sites. My previous work email, resulted in pages and links of past articles and appearances associated with the programs I oversaw.
You should try it! It’s fun.
If anything, it will give you a picture of what image you are presenting to the world. Branding is important, not just for companies and products, but individuals, too. Let me know what you find.
Although, reputation is important. It isn’t EVERYTHING. Here are some other quotes to consider:
– Have a Little Fun –
– Remember What is Important –
Reputation is what others think of us; character is what God knows of us. When you have spent what feels like eternity trying to repair a few moments of time that destroyed the view others once had of you, then you must ask yourself if you have the problem, or is it really them? God doesn’t make us try so hard, only enemies do. ― Shannon L. Alder