Writing the book was an amazing process. I had been thinking about this book for a long time—ever since the experience of running JuicyCampus. I was passionate about it because I think it will have a positive impact on high school and college students. I’m lucky to have expertise in a topic that is hot. Digital citizenship will become a more prominent issue.
It’s hard to say what I want to do when I graduate. I can continue in this reputation space. Whether that comes in the form of writing another book or starting a non-profit or another company, I don’t know. Stanford is the best school in the country for entrepreneurship so I don’t think it’s that crazy. A Stanford MBA is incredibly well respected so I think I could get those big jobs later on in my career if I decide to do that.
In the book, I tried to attack reputation management on two fronts: What are the questions to ask yourself to be a conscious creator of content online? And what are the things you can do today to manage your reputation online?
Everyone should ask, ‘Why am I doing this in the first place? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Is now the right time to post something? Are you impaired due to drinking or highly emotional? Where do you draw the line between public and private? How controversial do you want to be?” Having answers to these questions can help you to more consciously create content.
And then there are the things you can do today.
1) Google yourself. It’s amazing how many people haven’t done this. You have to turn off Google’s customized search results feature so you can view your results the way others are likely to see them. Pay particular attention to the first page of results. Research has shown that 96% of clicks occur on those first ten links. But don’t stop there. You need to take a full inventory of the available online information about you.
2) Clean up your accounts and content. It’s possible that some of the content you’ve posted in the past you might want to remove. Start with our Facebook account. Look through all of your photos and videos. Change or remove anything that you think should not be up there. Perform the same thoughtful process on your blog, your YouTube account, your Twitter account, and any other sites where you share content.
3) Update your privacy settings. Sites such as Twitter, Blogger and YouTube have fairly simple privacy controls. Facebook and Google+ have more sophisticated sharing options. The first step is very basic. An alarming number of students are Facebook friends with people whom they don’t actually know. A recent study conducted by Sophos Security reported that 46% of Facebook users are willing to accept a friend request from someone whom they don’t know at all. It’s unfriend time. You need to go through all of your friends and see if there are any whom you don’t recognize. Then, you need to create lists among those remaining friends. I recommend creating four groups: friends, family, professional contacts, and acquaintances. Once you’ve created those groups, the next step is to decide which content you want each of them to see. Every piece of Facebook content now has a little cog symbol associated with it. That is the privacy setting symbol and allows you to set the visibility of that piece of content. When you click on the cog symbol, you have the option to make the content public—visible to all your Facebook friends—visible just to you, or some customized group of friends.