Congratulations to graduates of the Class of 2013!

Colleges and universities across Hampton Roads are conferring bachelor and master degrees on the next generation of small business owners, marketers, public relations specialists and social media gurus.

As this new workforce prepares for a growing and digital global marketplace their digital footprint or online presence will make a major difference in how they do business.

School and work documents, social media and online images can have a significant effect on how you are viewed online.

And while this is an essential lesson for graduates to learn, it’s never too late to understand the importance of your online presence and ways to improve it.

The best way to see a small portion of your digital footprint is to google your name. When you are in the market for a new job, networking with people in your industry or preparing for new business ventures, digital information about you can have positive or negative affects on you.

Here are a few examples of information that can be found through a simple online search:

Relevant and recent information: The most recent and most seen information will appear at the top of the list of what Google finds. Depending on your work and social media activity it may be your job profile or your profile on a social media page. Any recent news stories featuring your name will also appear near the top.

Social media profile: If your name is on Facebook, Twitter or another social media community Google will find it and display it on your search results. Make sure your personal pages display appropriate information about you. Various privacy settings provide different levels of security for your account. Make sure your profile represents the person you want everyone to see.

Information from previous jobs: Any news releases, job profiles, honorable mentions and other information from your jobs’ websites will be available online for everyone to see.

While you may think nothing could be worse than having a negative online presence, you’d be wrong. If you googled your name and nothing came up other than a listing in the Yellow Pages, your online presence needs some work. In this digital age, most people have some form of an online presence.

Here are a few ways to enhance your online presence, whether negative or nonexistent:

Publish Content: Start blogging about your work and what you are passionate about. Your content will be available on the search results of your name. If you really want to get great results for your content, use search engine optimization tactics throughout your blog. Your SEO efforts will show your blog in multiple Google searches.

Indulge in Social Media: Use social media to position yourself among others in your industry. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter page create one that represents you, the professional, or your business.

There is no better time than now to establish your online presence. Make your digital footprint beneficial to you and your future career or business.

Continue to follow the JASE blog for additional information on reputation and identity management.  Again, congratulations to the Class of 2013.

image credit: by Hampton University on Flickr

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