More and more people are using social media networks not only for personal socializing, but also for establishing business connections and professional marketing. Some of the more popular networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Digg, and MySpace. Facebook ranks #2 among the major active social Web sites as reported by Global Alexa, a Web traffic reporting company, on Wikipedia [accessed 6 February 2010].
When people use these social media tools, not only are they creating an online presence, but they are also forming an online reputation.
If you have created an online presence, I suggest reading a Microsoft Data Privacy article, Research shows online reputations matter, about how it can impact your job prospects. This article also contains a link to another informative article from Microsoft Online Safety, Taking charge of your online reputation, which explains how to manage your online reputation.
As stated in the second Microsoft article, do a search for your name to reveal your online presence:
Type your first and last name into several popular search engines to see where you are mentioned and in what context. To get more precise results, put quotation marks around your name, so that the search engine reads your name as a phrase and not as two or more unrelated words that just happen to appear in the text. If you find other people who share your name, you can eliminate many false hits by using keywords. You can add keywords that apply only to you, such as your city, your employer, or a hobby.
In a New York Times article [published 20 January 2010], The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now, is explained how you can edit your privacy settings on Facebook. Each social media network has a tool to edit your profile and privacy settings.
If you haven’t created an online presence, you might find this Career Tips post, Build an Online Presence, helpful. Incidentally, the absence of an online presence is becoming a disadvantage to successful networking and job prospects. However, on any social media network, make sure you use the privacy settings, be careful which information you share publicly, and keep your presence professional with an eye toward making a good impression.
Finally, you can track your online reputation (or branding reputation monitoring as it is often referred to) with several tracking tools as described in a ReadWriteWeb article, How to Manage Your Online Reputation.
Don’t consider your reputation and you may do anything you like. ~ Chinese Proverb
Some suggested resources for you: