Digital technology and social media have created a dual reality: – who people are in their day-to-day lives versus who they are online. The latter forms part of our digital narrative. As a society of people who now Google each other before or after meeting each other, the information that is brought up in the digital space can affect reputations and even alter peoples initial perceptions of the “real life” you. Colleagues, potential employees, people we’ve met at networking events and sometimes even complete strangers are now able to “meet” the digital you and make their assessments on your capabilities and character based on these search results. It is now more important than ever that as a professional you are able to manage and protect your digital narrative.
First you need to have a look at the current information that is linked to you. Conducting a google search and looking across images, videos and organic search results will show you which information you would prefer be private or amended. Once you begin placing your information on the internet it can be difficult to erase it. Instead you can be proactive in repopulating the search as you see fit. Search results could include links to your social media, blogs and articles, as well as directories that have information about you.
Create your space
Once you know what results appear in the search, you can amend information within your digital spaces. This may include privatising or deleting certain social media accounts and requesting the removal of your details from directories. Creating a digital space can also involve becoming more visible on certain social media. For example having a LinkedIn page is very important and generally expected of professionals. You may want to create a LinkedIn profile that aligns more closely with the industry in which you work. For those who are focused on personal branding, creating a blog or website is a good way to create a digital narrative that is directly under your control. Working on the SEO for these creative spaces effects search results and is another way to control your online reputation.
Join a community
Just as in real life, people often look to the company you keep to determine what type of person you are. Congregating with those who are like minded is one way to communicate a certain image of yourself. Engaging with your fellow professionals and actively
contributing to conversations within that industry or field will lead to searchers associating your name with certain topics or causes.
Personal digital narratives are also influenced by what is written about you by other people. When other people support your skills and character their advocacy acts as an echo that reverberates across the internet. People are more likely to trust that what they read about you if there are other voices echoing your own.