Michael Fertik on Sky News: Online Reputation is Everything
Reputation is everything: a valuable mantra, but one that's due for a 21st century update.
These days, 'online reputation is everything'.
Just ask Starbucks, or Amazon - global businesses facing a backlash over their corporate tax payments in Britain.
Or HMV, the nearly century-old high street retailer whose own staff recently used the firm's Twitter account to reveal the carnage behind its administration.
According to Michael Fertik, founder of Reputation.com, we now rely on web reviews, or internet searches to make decisions about what we buy and where we go much more than we do on word of mouth recommendations.
"Reputation of your employees, of your products, of your company brand, and of your executives all go to your bottom line," Mr Fertik told me when we met to discuss digital life.
A positive online presence can make the difference between a profitable business and or a struggling venture, he insists. His top tips for success can be found here.
But it's not just businesses that need to manage their virtual reputations.
I gave his team of agents just a few personal details, including my full legal name, date of birth and three email addresses, and asked them to dig up as much dirt as they could.
Except for some photographic evidence of ill-advised haircuts back in university, I came up fairly clean. Though I have consciously kept my digital life fairly professional - I'm lousy at Facebook.
But most people aren't as careful as they should be, Mr Fertik says. That means they may be sharing more than they mean to with colleagues, potential employers, or even university admissions officers.
Mr Fertik says 90% of employers will look you up online before a hiring decision, and 70% of those will make their decision based on what they see.
Job hunters be warned: the first 10 results on Google are now your CV, whether you like it or not.
So, can you erase the bad stuff?
Well, Poppy Trowbridge Haircut 1999 is all the proof I need to safely assert: the internet is not as ephemeral as we'd like to think.