Protecting your reputation in the information age

social_reputationIn the digital age, your reputation is everything. In seconds, you can go from nobody to hero—or villain. Consider the restaurant employee who recently faced racial discrimination from a customer at work. She chose to share the customer’s offensive comment—left on the receipt in lieu of a tip—on her Facebook page, and irrevocably changed three people’s reputations: hers, the customer’s, and her employer’s.

While there are plenty of social, ethical, and political issues to discuss about the restaurant incident, let’s consider the effect it had on reputation. The power of social media has made virtually all other facts about these people irrelevant; the general public has formed opinions about all three, and they will be hard to change. It doesn’t matter what kind of employee the server was, or if the employer was actually very supportive up to this point. One particular incident now determines their reputations.

Similarly, a few negative reviews on sites like, left by disgruntled former (or current) employees, can tarnish a company’s reputation with prospective candidates. Is that fair? For people on the losing end of a story like this, the answer is often no—especially when the negative review doesn’t tell the whole story. After years of building a personal brand, sometimes all it takes is one bad story to tear it down.

So what can you do? Read more →