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What’s Your Reputation Worth?

Here’s what a very wise King Solomon said, Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” ~~ Proverbs 22:1

Now before you think I’m saying that all people with good reputations must be poor, let me put that to rest.  That’s NOT what I’m saying.  I want to take this Scripture at face value, and say there’s not enough money on earth to make up for a bad reputation.

There’s another great quote I’d like to share with you:  “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” ~~ Abraham Lincoln

So, it used to be that all we had to do to have a good reputation was to treat others well, be good to our family and friends, and conduct our business fairly.  But today, it’s not enough.  What???

That’s right…and I’m talking about the internet and social media.  I love America and free speech, and all my liberties; but with all freedoms, there are abuses of those same liberties we all hold dear.

Let me tell you a true story (a story still being written)…

I got into the internet marketing field about two years ago, and began developing training products for small businesses to access online, rather than having to travel for seminars, etc.  That led to many of those businesses contracting with me to help them be found online.  So, I began helping them develop an online presence and become involved in the social media conversation.  What great fun this is!!  I’ve discovered many wonderful tactics and strategies that are valuable to my clients.

Then, one day I had lunch with an old friend in another city, whom I had not seen in years.  As we were catching up, she began to cry when she told me about a vicious online attack against her husband.  I was horrified.  The attack was coming from just one man, who was disgruntled over something personal.  This attacker is brilliant in his use of the internet to create havoc.  My friends are very successful in their lines of work, but have absolutely no experience online.

She found out what I was doing professionally, and wondered if I could help.  I told her I would look into it.  So I did.  I studied what was on Google when I searched for my friend’s name.  I began to see a pattern with what was being done.  I studied the keywords, the frequency of the posts, and all the sites that were being used to crucify my friend.  It really was a cold, cunning, calculated vicious attack.  The man launching the attack happens to have a high-ranking authority website with a lot of “muscle” online and he was using that muscle for his own perverted pleasure.

I began a campaign to help my friend.  I studied everything I could get my hands on concerning Reputation Management online.  I soon learned that it’s a wide-open field.  Many large companies are hiring Reputation Management companies just to police the internet and push down the negative and boost the positive.  I bought courses…I studied from the best.  I tested, measured, and tested again.

I’m happy to report that if you were to Google my friend’s name right now, there’s “good stuff” at the top, and the negative is being pushed down.  It’s been a process and a journey.  It seems so unfair, that anyone can go online and say anything at all and get away with it.  It doesn’t have to be true.  It’s protected under free speech.  The only way around this is to actually hire an attorney, take it to court and prove fallacious content has been posted with malicious intent.  That’s a tall order.  In the meantime, while the court docket has my friend’s case scheduled for early 2013, the attacker is free to continue.

On a less serious scale, there are small businesses out there that really need to pay attention to what is being posted online.  Restaurants, dentists, plumbers, hotels, etc…  After all, Google is the new Yellow Pages, and if someone is searching on Yelp for a good restaurant, and the first thing they see is a bad review, trust me, they’re moving on to the next one.  Reputation matters.  Period.

In closing, there is one last quote I’d like to leave with you.  Benjamin Franklin said this:  “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

This topic of reputation online will be coming to the forefront more and more and you’ll begin to see national media coverage on this topic.  I’d like your comments…please post below.