I recently had a conversation with a friend is in the shall we say, “over 50s”.
“What is Facebook? And really why do I need to have an online profile anyway?” he asked.
He then stated what he thought was good reasoning. He quoted Eddie McGuire as saying something along the lines of “Why would I get a profile in place that was set up initially for bullying?” when asked the question if he was on Facebook.
And then my friend paused.
“Because,” I replied gently, “you’re not Eddie McGuire.”
If you’re not Australian, you may not know who Eddie McGuire is. He’s a local media personality who has had an interesting life so far – starting in a working-class suburb and worked his way up to an influential and affluent life.
Eddie is known for a number of things; some know him as a talking head (tv presenter), some know him as a passionate football club president, some know him as someone not to hire to run your TV station, some know him as a hard-nosed businessman, and many know him as a radio personality.
Eddie doesn’t need to be on Facebook, because his already well-known. Most of the rest of us however don’t fit into that category. Does that matter? Yes, frankly, today it does.
Have a job? What happens if it isn’t there one day and you have to go looking?
When an employer wants to find out about an applicant one of the things that they do is look online. They will “Google” your name and see what comes up.
If you are unlucky, it could be someone with your name has gone to a buck’s night at a girly bar, and one of their “friends” posted hilarious (read compromising) pictures online somewhere. Hopefully, that person is not you. Not so funny to a potential employer. The person was looking at those photos has never met you and doesn’t know what you look like. All other things being equal, if you’re up against another candidate who has no such photos, whom do you think would be more likely to be shortlisted?
Have your own business? Customers search not only for a business name, they may search for you – it all depends on how they came to know about you. If they don’t find anything about you online, most people react with a “Next!” If they do find something, can they easily mistake you for someone else with the same name who has lost their license to practice in your trade?
It’s only a matter of time before banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, and other institutions start to use this information that is freely and publicly available to help them make decisions about customers, partners, agents, and so on. It’s all about minimising risks in their businesses.
The point is this – whether you “think” you have an online profile or reputation, or not – you do. It’s up to you to make sure it’s a good one.