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When was the last time you searched your name using an online search engine? What did you find? Were you happy with how your personal brand was represented or did you find someone else with the same name and a questionable background?

Here are some important guidelines for protecting and stewarding your personal brand in social media:

  1. Establish your personal social media policy. These are guidelines for you to use and follow that frame up where you want to be visible, what you are willing to speak about, what you want to stay away from and how you ensure that your social media is doing the job you need it to do.
  2. Manage your story for search engine optimization. Typically, social media properties are the first things to be found by search engines.
  3. Review your social media sites and make sure that they are robust, consistent and communicate your value proposition. Keep them well maintained and updated. You must protect your file on an ongoing basis.
  4. Be intentional about the social media properties you use for business and those that are for personal use. Protect your personal social media properties using security settings, including pre-approving any posts that could be pasted on your timeline. And give some critical thought to who you connect with.
  5. Do you really want your Chief Human Resources Officer to see a video of you getting your last tattoo or pictures from your final spring break back in college?
  6. Distinguish your name. Whether you think you have a common name or not, it is likely someone else has the same or similar name. This can be confusing to your stakeholders, and sometimes even harmful to your brand. Try incorporating your middle initial into your profile – like Michael J. Fox.
  7. Be consistent and adopt it as your brand name. Use your middle initial in your email signature, business cards, resume-CV-bio, presentations, and all of your social media. When you direct people to your social media, don’t forget to tell them that you are Robert E. Lee, not Bob Lee.
  8. Be active and responsive to those that reach out. This includes paying attention to birthdays, anniversaries and private messages into your social media inboxes. It not only helps you to build strong relationships, but it opens new doors, keeps you in contact with professionals from your past, and preserves your reputation.

Treat and steward your social media profile like you would your personal credit score. Monitor it frequently. Address issues in real-time. And make good choices.