Google yourself on the web. Put your name in quotation marks. If you have a common name, you may have to add a few other cues, such as company name, city of residence, or alma mater.

If the only hit that pops up is a Facebook photo of you in a toga guzzling a yard of beer or toking off a bong, you’re in trouble. If the only hits are a listing in the church choir’s roster for an Easter service three years ago and a mention in the news that you witnessed an auto wreck last spring…well, you’re like most of America.

But you can change all that. People want to do business with others who are web-certified entities:

Here are a few ways to improve your online reputation (especially when it comes to Google search results):

  • Create a clear, positive posting for LinkedIn. You can be invited to join LinkedIn or create your own account. To participate in Groups, find on you’re interested in and click the moderator to ask if you can join the dialogue.
  • Contribute an article to a publication. It doesn’t have to be a business piece. Maybe it’s a community project, or a remembrance of an unforgettable coach on a memorial site. Write something meaningful that demonstrates you have good taste and judgement.
  • Give a talk and publicize it. Many community organizations need speakers, and you may have the opportunity to post your talk on their website. The early-20s youngster of one parent I know joined a disaster relief group in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Despite initial misgivings about the young person’s safety, the experience proved positive for all involved. The parent went online to describe her hesitations and the evidence. Not an easy choice, but the comments showed a mother who was forthright and thoughtful.
  • Tweet intelligent tips. The best way to create Twitter traction, I think, is to recommend sites and gems on the Web that you find useful yourself. Don’t pretend you’re a star. Tweet others a fresh edge on camping in Nova Scotia or organizing their garage.

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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