In today’s world, where every individual is a brand, it’s not just celebrities who have to be concerned about their reputation. We’ve all seen stories of people whose lives have been turned upside down when they become the target of public shaming. An ill-timed conflict or a bad social media post can cost employment opportunities and relationships. The truth is, even if something is a misunderstanding, the public isn’t often that forgiving, and when they find out about a transgression, that can completely change the trajectory of your life. Many people with great careers have had them destroyed by one social media gaffe, so it’s not just about how people see you; it’s how potential employers and business partners see you.
Now more than ever, it’s important to manage your reputation and to make sure whatever you’re putting out there doesn’t come back to haunt you. So what steps can we take to manage our reputations and uphold a good public image?
Here are a few things you can do.
Do An Audit
A great place to start is to see what’s already out there about you online. In business social media marketing, an audit gives a brand a starting point, so they know what to address first. As an individual, it’s important to do the same. Doing a simple Google search of yourself can give you an idea of how you appear when people look for you.
Many people have ended up in public hot water because of inflammatory social media posts from years ago that they might have forgotten about. If you’ve had social media profiles since your teens and late 20s, chances are there are things you don’t remember posting or tweeting. Go back and clean up those tweets and posts.
Sort Out Legal Matters
No one wants to come face-to-face with the law, but it happens sometimes. If you’ve had a misunderstanding or issue in the past, the last thing you want is for it to come back and haunt you years later. Many employers and business partners will be looking at your legal record, so knowing what’s on it is important. If you have had a legal issue before, there is a chance that you can have it removed from your record. According to an expungement attorney in Los Angeles, “you can apply for expungement if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, or a felony that could have been charged as a misdemeanor, and were given a sentence that included a fine, probation, or county jail time.” This can help you have a much better reputation, and it can open up a lot more opportunities for you.
Approach Conflict Wisely
Whether you’re dealing with a frustrating retail experience or you’re annoyed at your insurance company, there are so many interactions we have that can be infuriating. Many people have found themselves the target of ridicule when they have a massive outburst in public.
In our irrational anger, we forget that people around us have phones that can record what we’re doing and post them to sites like Reddit and Twitter. It’s better to approach conflict with a cooler head and even learn small de-escalation techniques to calm things down. Remember, you can express your frustration without becoming unhinged, and that way, you can come to a solution more respectfully.
Practice Zoom Etiquette
We’ve seen many stories of people who forgot that their cameras or mics were on during virtual meetings. They ended up as cautionary tales for the internet to dissect, laugh and marvel at. If you spend any time on Zoom calls or live streams, it’s better to operate under the assumption that you are being recorded if you’re in front of the camera. You should also mute yourself when you can and turn off the camera when it’s not necessary. You can even buy a webcam cover that adds an extra layer of control to avoid any embarrassing moments.
These days, public image is impacted by things like social media. We’ve all heard stories of a person’s transgressions being brought out into the light and how their reputations suffered such immense damage they could never recover from it. Very often, the issues were mere misunderstandings, but how they were perceived on social media led to the fallout. It’s necessary to be more proactive about managing your reputation and to think like your own brand manager. Remove from your public-facing profiles anything that could be taken badly, and keep your temper in check. That way, you’ll never find yourself on the wrong side of an angry social media mob.