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So few people really understand how important their personal brand is to how they are perceived everywhere. For some people the link between their real self and their online perceptions is tenuous and trivial. But you will be judged based on your online self.
Everyone Has a Brand
As the articles by Michael Fertik and others will attest, how you are seen in the world matters a great deal. While everyone knows that perception is reality in the real world, the online world is still a new and foreign concept to some people. Everything in the world that either you write or that is written about you becomes a vital part of your presentation. A good presentation is an essential part of being respected regardless of your chosen field of endeavor. Not knowing how you are being presented is rather like an ostrich putting its head in the sand in that it doesn’t change anything, though it might temporarily make you feel better.
Not Knowing Your Brand Won’t Protect It
You need to protect your brand. While there may not be anyone who is actively trying to disparage or libel you, this is a possibility if you have enemies. In addition to this, you also have to be wary of outdated information that may still be circulating about you. Old information can be detrimental when it’s no longer true. Imagine the awkwardness of a situation in which someone thinks you’re still with a former spouse, or if you had a particularly interesting fraternity life that came to the top of searches about you years later. Ignorance is only bliss until it becomes a hardship.
Brand Yourself or Be Branded
Everyone in this world has a brand, and you have two options. You can choose to brand yourself in a way that shows you at your best, or you can choose to let the world brand you however it sees fit. If you allow the latter to happen, you should never be surprised by what you get or by how people perceive you after they find whatever is out there. It may not be true, it may be decades out of date, but if you allow something to taint your brand you have only yourself to blame for it.
Your online self is no laughing matter. If you don’t protect it, you will be misperceived, and the costs coming out of this can be dire.