In a recent BCTF magazine article, Manage Your Digital Footprint, Larry Kuehn writes, “here’s a new task to add to your day: online reputation management.”

Just as personal grooming and fitness are part of your daily routine,  you also need to establish and maintain a healthy online self.  If you’re not actively building your identity and establishing a presence online, you’re letting search engines cobble together information, good or bad, and write your public story.

Julia Hengstler, Vancouver Island University, suggests that you check your digital footprint. Do a Google search on your name—and don’t forget to search for images, video, and blogs. For a look into the “deep web,” try pipl.com.  Julia says “you may find more of a footprint than you imagined.”

After you know what already exists about you online, start reshaping that information. Establish a purpose. Do you want to use the Internet to find a job or promote a new career? Or do you simply want to keep your online reputation robust in case Grandmother Googles your name?

If you’ve been thinking about whipping your online identity into shape, personal branding and identity management is an undertaking for which there are few sins.  But the biggest sin, the cardinal sin, of identity management is silence. If someone looks for you online and cannot find you at all, they might assume that you don’t have an online presence or that they’re looking in the wrong place. If they look for you and find evidence of you all over the web but nothing current , you’re sending the message that you’re old news, you don’t keep up on what’s going on, and there has to be someone out there more interesting and relevant than you.

You don’t need to spend hours a day sharing links, posting to your blog, or updating the world through your Twitter feed but you do need to look like you’re alive. Your online presence should not be an archeological snapshot of the life you had in the last decade but an active window into the life you’re living now.

Interested in learning more?  Join Julia Hengstler’s Digital Footprint Group in CEET, an Online Community for teachers interested in teaching with technology.   View a recorded webinar where Julia discusses constitutes a digital footprint,  attitudes toward digital footprints, the mechanics of social media, what to avoid and and how to manage your online identity.

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