Managing your digital footprint effectively

Published on 17 Dec 2015 . 5 min read

We just wrapped up this year's SHEROES tri-city Summit and close to the lines of our theme "Women make Digital India”, we would now like to talk about “digital footprints” and what it entails.

Have you ever heard of the term digital footprint? If you are an occasional user of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn etc. and regularly post photos, videos, blogs and comments, you have already begun leaving one. A surprisingly large percentage of people have never even heard that phrase. As a result, not many manage theirs responsibly. Any personal profile, your browsing history, your online subscriptions, photo galleries and videos you’ve uploaded, location check-ins, posts, likes, comments, contacts, reviews; everything is documented for eternity (or until the server is up).

A study by Microsoft showed that over 70% of employers have screened out potential employees based on their digital footprint. Recruitment agencies validate resumes, interests and gauge personalities with LinkedIn to match the JD requirements before approaching candidates. This holds true for those who want to extend business relations or want to forge partnerships.

So having a digital footprint that resembles your true self is very important to build credibility of your personal brand image. Who knows, it could land you your dream job someday. An accurate digital footprint is without a doubt essential, but it does take some effort get it there. Here are some approaches to get a great digital footprint that is interesting as well as commendable!

Figure the objective of your digital presence and stick to it
While some are online because it’s the “in” thing to do, others are online to boost their professional network and become influencers. Some advocate public service causes, while others advocate special interests. Whatever may suit your need, make sure you are consistent across sites and your online activities are consistent with your personality.

Recruiters hire candidates if they find their public profiles are consistent with their organization’s culture or the candidate is creative/well-rounded/great communicators based on their posts, blogs or websites. Eager business partners also look for positivity through the kind of causes you advocate or show you are well read when you opined on world affairs.

Broaden your network
Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to effortlessly connect and stay in touch with people you would normally not run into or connect face-to-face with during your busy schedule. Your friend’s networks become yours. This allows you to get involved in their lives, observe their life updates or events with a simple click of a button. And if at all you do run into them after ages, their FB updates become easy conversation starters.

Restrain your exposures
Make sure to manage your contributions carefully, since much of the information stored online goes public by default. Unless you change your privacy settings, your social network page will come up on a web search which at times can lead to misinterpretation and bias. Be careful who gets access to your digital activities and what personal information you make publicly available. Potential employers have been known to reject applicants on the basis of information discovered online

Candidates have been known to be rejected for posting inappropriate comments on politics or anti-social activities or negative remarks about others, or for sharing confidential information about employers or colleagues.

Stay with the times, out with the old
Thanks to smartphones, single sign-on free apps and 4g connectivity, almost all sites are easily accessible. So be sure to glance through your news feeds at every traffic signal or while on a conference call. There’s nothing worse than commenting on stale news or reposting an old viral. Also, monitor the accounts you’ve signed up on and delete the ones you no longer use.

That ancient Orkut page you signed up for? Don’t just forget about it–find it and delete it.

Be Selective
What others post about you or respond to you - be it your colleagues, your friends, your frenemies can be publicly accessed. Be selective in your choice of contacts, after all having a huge number of contacts in your friend list isn’t always a great sign. Also choose appropriate platforms to share appropriate content. Voice your views through Linkedin articles or if you love writing, create a blog on Wordpress, or share your photography on Instagram.

Google yourself every now and then. You may be surprised what you find. If you are logged into your Google account, the service tracks every keyword they search, every Web page you visit and every video you viewed on Youtube. Google ads also adapt based on your recent search activity.

Take pride in your digital footprint
Avoid reposts without checking the facts or commenting on topics you are remotely aware of. Digital dummy. Be smart about what you post and what you say to or about others. Avoid public slander or digital gossip by being over cynical or skeptical of others.

So the next time you are online, remember this famous quote by Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

By Bonita Fernandes

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SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at @SHEROESIndia

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