Google loves your network, so should you.

You have spent years developing a strong personal network… yet over the past few years you’ve been letting someone care for it more than you do.

Who? Google.

As an professional you could be looking at CEO reputation or how different online reputation types work. Depending on your roll in life, your personal and professional brand can drive between five to five hundred searches per month on your “personal name” as a keyword. For any professional with an interest in how other people perceive them, this is a critical point to understand.

If you are part of a team of professionals, these personal and professional name searches quickly escalate into hundreds or thousands of searches every month. An example management team with 15 to 20 members generates anywhere from 400 to 5000 searches a month. If this is a public facing group (I.E. executive or business development channel) then this search traffic is being entirely left unattended. Read more

CEO Reputation, how to lead or fail online

Many top executives experience both love and hate of the promotional affect of the web, however CEO reputation in the digital space interacts with dozens of new elements including investor relations, customer service, stock prices, perception of liability, and more.

Depending on what report you look at, business analysts attribute somewhere between 23% and 52% of a companies reputation based on the reputation of the CEO. This percentage of ownership in the digital space is directly related to CEO names and executive staff members being in the spotlight when it comes to news coverage. Ask any journalist, the CEO of a company is usually the top choice for interviews and industry coverage.

Read more

Reputation Toolbox, tools for online professionals

Just a few years ago, the traditional business professional didn’t need to worry much about digital conversations said about them. In today’s modern marketplace, your online reputation controls many of your professional opportunities. So far that online reputation is overtaking the traditional credit score as a means to identify if you are a worthwhile business partner. *If you would like to read more detail, you can read this four page whitepaper about reputation value or my CEO blog article on reputation score vs credit fiasco.

With that said, this reputation toolbox is a collection of resources to help you establish, maintain and protect your “online reputation score.”

Why should you read this? My company provides online reputation management services to executives and corporations. We believe that a good online reputation company doesn’t hide behind dozens of secrets or manipulative strategies to keep clients in the dark: if a professional wants to self-train themselves on hundreds of overlapping technical points and spend hours refining an expertise as a digital reputation specialist… they can. Read more

5 tools for Free Reputation Management

Everyone wants to keep up with the digital conversation and know what people are saying about you through blogs and twitter. You need to be proactive in listening to conversations that are important to you.

There are three basic components of reputation management:

  1. Listening to the conversation (read this article!)
  2. Being proactive and highlighting your information with professional information (read profiles for professionals & executive URLs, personal domains)
  3. Getting involved in the conversation (check out executive branding & online reputation)

Before venturing into your effort, we need to identify a list of things you want to monitor. We don’t want to waste time or energy focusing on the wrong things. Read more

Social Media Profiles for Professionals

Creating a robust and professional image is a hard thing to do. As online identity and reputation becomes more valuable, focus on profiles that get “maximum bang for the buck.”  Take a moment and setup these three, which will help serve as a healthy foundation for your online presence and give you the benefit of showing up in mainstream search engine results.

There are many reasons you have to consider for maintaining a healthy online presence. You may simply want to have easy to find information, you may want to connect with industry peers, or you may simply want to have some reputation insurance in case Google finds some strange tidbit from your past.

If you are unsure of where to start, the following services will provide a fairly strong online presence. Read more

CEO Guide to Linkedin

LinkedIn is currently the largest professional network where individuals connect with prospects, employers research information on new candidates, and a mix of knowledge is relayed. Currently populated by over 20 million users and growing at a million members per month, the average age of users is 41 and there is at least one executive from every Fortune 500 on the site.

From a business perspective there are three basic methods of using LinkedIn:

  • Growing your network
  • Sourcing experience and information
  • Promoting a brand (individual or business)


Have a strategy
Some people “jump right in” to Linked in and lose a lot of potential benefits from the very start. Read through this entire article and plan on spending at least an hour (or more) browsing around LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a virtual cocktail party, and take the effort to connect some dots in your plan before sticking your foot in your mouth.

Creating a robust profile
Your professional brand can be polished in many ways. LinkedIn is a community model, the information you reveal will often be viewed from hundreds of different perspectives. You should only include resume information that is relevant to the goal you are trying to reach, if you are a business coach – drop off those entrees from fifteen years ago that have irrelevant entries about being a restaurant manager. Streamline your information down to precise bullet points that highlight your talent and accomplishments. Most importantly, if you have had a change in your goals, make sure to update the way you are selling your personal brand.

Your Foundation Network.
If you are not on LinkedIn, chances are a few of your professional friends are not either. You should have a list of twenty professionals you currently have good relationships with, and immediately do a search for them on LinkedIn. If they are not present, forward this article to them and ask them to join you online; if they are present- ask them to write a recommendation or testimonial for your current work. Many professionals on the LinkedIn network are qualifying you based upon what others have said, and without some initial foundation here you cripple your efforts.

  • Karma goes a long way
    While establishing your foundation network, realize that it is a two way street. Many professionals will reciprocate a worthwhile reference or testimonial if you take the time to write one about them beforehand.
  • Keep Your Network Clean
    The people in your professional network should be assets, individuals who have good things to say about you, connect you to the right people, and help grow your professional brand. In that mindset, if you wouldn’t be interested in introducing a person at a live event as a professional friend, you probably shouldn’t be listing them on your LinkedIn network either. All of these individuals affect your online reputation and many of them actually detract from your brand. If someone should glance at your online network- they should be thinking “wow, this person knows some great people.”

Growing Your Network
The age old saying “its about who you know” is literal truth on LinkedIn. It is not about having a massive number of fans or virtual friends. Your network is about connecting with other connectors, people who can introduce you into real world relationships that can benefit your business. You may want to immediately “grow out” a network of 1000 professionals… but hold on and trim the fat. Keep high-quality contacts and grow other high quality contacts.

  • It may be professional, but it really is personal.
    When you add someone to your network, take the step of making a personal connection. Immediately write them an e-mail, drop them a phone call, or invite them to lunch. Go outside of the normal “canned introduction” that LinkedIn provides and establish yourself as a real person. In order to do this, take ten minutes to read through the person’s profile, blog, and company site so that you can talk sensibly about what you can do for each other. The key here is mutual benefit. Don’t go banging on doors selling vacuum cleaners and canned product pitches, sell yourself into a relationship and make a connection first.
  • Utilize the “inner circle” introduction.
    Don’t go blindly asking for people to add you to their network. Use introductions from people you know. Most professional have an “inner circle” of friends and family- typically only 20 to 50 strong. These inner circle networks have strong relationships often established over years, and if your inner circle introduces you to someone in their inner circle- the introduction is worth its weight in gold.
  • Business Cards – left vs right pocket.
    If you attend a social or networking event and receive a few business cards, take a simple step to organize your networking clutter. Make a decision to put really uninteresting people in your left pocket… and really useful people in your right. Take a moment the next day to e-mail all your contacts and do two things – 1) invite them to continue your conversation and 2) establish a networking connection on LinkedIn.

Sourcing experience and information
A key benefit of LinkedIn is the communication of knowledge. As a professional, you have access to 24 / 7 expertise from your direct network and from the global community. As part of your “LinkedIn Strategy”, take a few moments to consider the follow:

  • Understand the Economy (and value) of Information
    Turning to your professional network for expert opinions and recommendations represents an ability to leverage thousands of dollars in free information and to educate yourself on complicated business decisions. If you have a network of only 50 professionals and each of those professionals have a network of 50, your immediate network has a foundation of 2500 providers who can offer ideas, questions, and insight to your current problems. As the economy of information increase to 100 professionals with 100 contacts each, you reach over 10,000 information providers who can streamline hours off your workload and may even save you months of effort by avoiding common industry pitfalls.
    As an example of this benefit, I asked the question at LinkedIn “What are the best blogs, how-to, and guide sites out there covering the latest Web 2.0 / social media trends in regards to business development?” and within 24 hours received six answers. I could have spent countless hours searching for the information I received in the answers. (You can read more in-depth about that question and its results in this article: 123 LinkedIn Social Media Answers.)
  • Asking questions:
    Narrow down your inquiry as much as possible when looking for an answer. If you don’t, you run the risk of the community answers hi-jacking your question and going down a path you didn’t intend to travel down. Whenever possible, provide informational links to help inform people reading your question so that they can provide a clear and relevant answer. Going through the extra step of detailing what you know (or don’t know) will help expert members respond to your question at the appropriate skill and informational level.
  • Answering questions to find information:
    One of the easiest ways of sourcing information is to help clarify another person’s question. Community interaction can help take a rough statement and polish it into a diamond. By participating in on-going conversations, you have the ability to steer answers in a direction that can provide value to you, while at the same time educating readers on points that you have already answered. Even as someone who is not an expert, it gives you the opportunity to state what you believe to be true and someone can validate your understand or identify that you have the wrong information. In any case, offer a thank you: someone who is spending the time to provide free information and clarification of your thoughts is an asset worth acknowledging.

Promoting a brand (individual or business)
Everyone loves a little self promotion, but understand that LinkedIn IS a social network. Before you go beating down every door and shamelessly pitching what you have to offer, realize that there is a cost associated with any worthwhile relationship- you must offer something to balance out what you are taking from the individual (or the community.)

  • Become an Expert
    linkedin social media expert By answering questions from the LinkedIn community you can earn “expert points”, these add over time and eventually push your profile higher than other professionals in your field. This added exposure increases traffic to your profile and helps establish your knowledge in your industry (just like keeping an expert focus blog), and you can earn a little green star on your profile alerting community members to your knowledge.
  • The Real World
    So now you have a networking empire of dozens (or hundreds) or great people… what do you do with it? You use it. If you add someone to your network, take the time to make a personal connection. Invite your world into interactions that include you. This could range from professional mixers to evening get-togethers, a cup of coffee or dinner someplace new, or just an invitation to some healthy conversation.Most importantly, use your network. Your professional network is a highly reactive marketplace. If you need someone to re-design your house, ask your network for a referral to someone they know. (If you need someone to help with online business promotion use me!) By utilizing professionals in your network, you help establish mutual connection and return what you have benefited from.
  • Take your network and make it a community.
    Just a few focused professionals can take a network of 1000 people and turn it into a thriving community of business exchange. By scheduling repeat and consistent contact, a network contact will evolve into a community relationship. By forming groups on like-minded topics such as the 123 Social Media LinkedIn group, professionals have the chance to establish methods of routine contact for each other. Professionals within local geographic areas can also form groups for city professionals to join, which also gives them the ability to network within group interests.

Conclusion Points:

  • Don’t wait for someone to network, pick up the phone and invite something to happen.
  • Use the system to find new contacts and take action.
  • Share your expertise and knowledge.

Leave a comment if you found this information useful or if you would like to have a follow-up article on some of the more robust features found in LinkedIn (advertising, business groups, etc).

If you use Outlook, you can download the LinkedIn Outlook plugin here.

If you would like to connect with me, visit my new View Barry Hurd's profile on LinkedIn

You can also join the 123 Social Media group on linked in by clicking here.

or just read more at the LinkedIn blog.

Executive Reputation Profiles

There are more professional networking and community sites today than you can shake a stick at. Yet as a professional business person, you need to have a presence on some choice locations to network with others, establish a communication channel, protect your reputation, and establish a brand for your company. In the online world, you have approximately ten seconds to “sell yourself” to a casual viewer. Depending on the method they find your information however, they may not be a casual viewer. They may actually be a “investigative prospect” actively looking for information about who you are.

The first place 99% of these viewers is going to begin looking for you online is in a search engine (Google / Yahoo / etc). Whether the profile in question is an individual or business one, establishing proper profiles on social media sites can increase search recognition, bolster traffic on specific phrases, and control how visitors perceive your information and presence. You need to have a PROFESSIONAL profile, image, and brand

What is a Professional Social Media Profile?

A professional social media profile is created like a well-tuned resume. It is your chance to high-light the best parts of who you are.

It is a “go to” source of information on you, your company, and the brand both entities have online. A well thought profile has the ability to influence readers and promote your brand. It also has the ability to act as a hub of information about different items such as reputation, testimonials, and reviews of your professional life.

Who needs one?

Everyone. Every business. Every team.

How many do you need?

The more the merrier.

Why does everyone need one? Why have multiple profiles?

The world of “search engines” is an evolving creature. When someone looks for your name or the name of your business online, what are they going to find? If you don’t have some established and professional profiles, they are going to find what someone else said about you or be subject to some company putting up random information on the search results of your name.

If you are “John Doe” the professional for instance, it is useful to understand that at least a few people have searched for your name online in the past six months. Depending on the exact industry and way you present yourself in the real world, that could lead to anywhere from one to thousands of monthly searches for your name.

Each profile you have online allows the search engines to have one more valid (and informative) result about who you are. If you have five different profiles online, when someone does a search for “John Doe” it increases the chance of having multiple results for your name on the first page of the search results. If you have a highly competitive name (and there are thousands of people named John Doe) you can link them properly to your website, e-mail, newsletter, and business cards to help enhance your brand control.

Most importantly- profiles you create have YOUR information and are under YOUR control.

As a professional, when was the last time you blindly trusted a random person to tell someone else who you were? If you have been in business for any length of time, the answer is probably a long time ago or never.

If you avoid having at least one professional social media profile, you are literally throwing yourself at the mercy of a stranger. They could say good or bad things, provide correct or wrong information, or purposely mislead someone into thinking something about you.

Where can you get a social media profile?

There are literally hundreds of sites that can create a profile on to help control your brand. Some example sites:


What are some of the uses for having a profile?

  • You can use it to establish credibility.
  • You can coordinate your reputation.
  • You can catalog your testimonials (Namyz and Linkedin)
  • It can connect your online brand and offline brand (use it on your collateral)
  • You can pro-actively have an impact on your reputation.
  • It becomes a business and professional asset, growing with time.
  • It gives your audience (prospects, clients, and peers) a place to interact with you.

Why is all this important?

While some companies focus on “the top”, this is a fundamental problem in online marketing and brand promotion. Top results in search technology and branding are created by establishing a presence in many different places. You want people to have easy and quick access to accurate and worthwhile information about your professional brand. You also want viewers to recognize you as a leader in your industry and an expert in your area of focus.

How do I Create Professional Social Media Profiles?

Step One: Use strategy. Before you start creating profiles and running amok through dozens of social media sites, sit down and detail why you are creating these profiles. Securing a personal brand name, achieving higher search engine results, and exposing your company message to the community are all good goals. Each and every user of social media is going to have different personal and professional goals.

  • How do you want to present yourself?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Will you be active in the community?

Step Two: Identify the information you want communicate. To save a lot of time and effort, collect the information you want to share with the world. If this is a professional application to enhance your career status, have an updated resume on hand and highlight the information you want to use. Consistent and clear information through-out a social media project is essential.

It is best to have a semi-polished presentation to your profile, but also try to understand the tone and culture of the site the specific profile is on. Every social networking site has a different demographic on it (Myspace is youthful and hip, Linkedin is professionals, Biznik is entrepreneurial) and while someone may find your profile through a search engine, you also have the opportunity to interact with the community on the site itself.

  • What name do you want to use? This is important- as your name will be a primary way people find this information through searching.
  • What keywords do you want to be found under? In any profile system that allows titles, descriptions, and other information- your priority keywords should be used.
  • What visual picture is going to represent you? Almost every profile allows an image, have a company logo and profile image handy.
  • What testimonials can you share? Everyone has a few good things other people have said.
  • When your business was established
  • What type of products and services you offer
  • What your IDEAS and INSIGHTS are.
  • Who is your ideal client (your target market)

Step Three: Where will I be and who will I be with? Social Media has the word “social in it for a reason. Utilizing your existing network is the quickest way to get a boost to the results that your profiles can have online. Below is a brief sample of sites that some of my information appears on. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites that information could appear on.

Step Four: Invite people to participate. While there are branding and minor search engine benefits of social media, the true benefits come from actively participating in the medium by invited associates and other like-minded professionals to connect.

  • Jump start your social media profiles by writing a quick e-mail to your top 25 contacts and inviting them to see your information.
  • Make a monthly effort to invite 5 to 10 new connections.
  • Choose one new social media site each month and create another profile.

Step Five- Taking it to the next level.

Educate yourself and join the conversation happening around your professional interests. Read some of the following articles to better understand how some of these issues interact with each other and how you can maximize your time and effort to produce results.