You never get a second chance to make a first impression. But it takes a long time to build your reputation.
Simply, I would say that reputation is a combination of what you have done – your actions, the way you lead your life, what you have accomplished – and what other people say about you. It's that latter part over which you have less control than the former. If you live with integrity, if you work well with others, they will be more inclined to say positive things. But it's a sad fact of the times that today, it's very easy for someone who either has a grudge against you – or just wants to get ahead of you in business – to damage the reputation you worked very hard to achieve.
There are no “truth policemen” who patrol websites to ensure the veracity of their content. A website author is free to publish content that is inaccurate or just plain wrong, in error, by mistaken belief, or even maliciously. Once something is online, it's difficult to erase it. Check out the Wayback Machine if you think old websites die and disappear!
Do you know what is being said about you online? It's a good start to Google your name, your business name, and any variation of these. That can show you some of what is being said about you. Unfortunately not everything that's online has or will make its way into Google's index. And unless you have nothing else to do every day, it would not be cost-effective for you to spend the time required to monitor your reputation manually.
Did you find nothing? That could actually be worse than finding something negative! If your reputation is not out there, then you are probably not getting your share of the business pie.
What to do if you find negative items about yourself? First, you should take a step back and ask yourself if there could be even a germ of truth in what is being said. If so, you need to address the issue and solve it, because no attempt at Reputation Management will make that problem go away permanently. It will just keep reappearing. But if the negative items are purely an unfounded attack, there are things that can be done to mitigate their affect on your online reputation.
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