​Whether you realise it or not, people are checking you out online every day; and these include prospective sponsors, business partners, investors, employers and literally anyone. The earlier you take charge of your online reputation, the better for you. What shows up when people look up your name on Google, Facebook and other online channels? Do you have content that you would be proud to be associated with?

Building your online identity is a deliberate process; and the earlier you get started, the better. Don’t wait until you need it badly before you start building it. By then, it will be too late. Now, you’re probably wondering where to start from. The first step is to ascertain your current online identity by checking out the information that already exists about you online. You also need to review your social media profiles and make sure that they don’t contain information you would rather not want publicised in some contexts. I once heard someone advise that whatever you cannot say into a loudspeaker on the street, don’t say it on Facebook, Twitter or any social media platform. That’s a good rule to abide by.

Having taken care of the foregoing, you can go ahead to implement the following practical steps. These are tips which I have learnt and personally implemented with evident results:

Claim Your Name

Claim your name on all popular social media platforms. While you don’t have to be active on every social media platform, you need to claim your name on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest and about.me. This will prevent someone else from creating a fake account with the intent to misrepresent you for fraudulent purposes.

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In addition to claiming your name on the popular social media platforms, you should also register a domain name. Building a website with your domain name will give you a sort of online home where you can showcase your portfolio and share your thoughts. You should seek a domain that exactly matches your name in order to increase your possibilities for better ranking when people are searching for you on Google and other search engines.

Create and Share Useful Content

Build your website and post useful content on it. Write articles that contain valuable information. This is one way to establish your expertise. However, it is not enough to create content, you also need to get people to read your content. Share your content on social media platforms and everywhere possible.

Engage Your Community

Interactions are a crucial component of any effort to build online reputation. Connect with other interesting people online. Share their posts on Facebook, retweet them on Twitter, send them compliments on about.me, and comment on their blog posts. Some blogs permit you to include a link to your website while posting comments. This implies added visibility for you. Your activities online should not just be about you; seek to help others and always give more than you take.

By implementing the foregoing recommendations, you will be on your way to building an online identity that you will be proud of. Two steps you should take right away include registering a domain name and creating a professional profile on LinkedIn. Creating a LinkedIn profile is the easiest thing you can do to guarantee that the first Google link with your name on it is professional. Of course, there’s a lot more to be done, but taking these first steps will get you up and running.

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And remember, it will require a great deal of patience, persistence and consistency.