Digital Reputations Are Quickly Becoming Currency in the Business World

Are we entering an age where one’s digital reputation is a form of career currency – or are we already there?

That is the subject of an article in Forbes last month that gets some things right and others wrong. It absolutely seems like online histories and reputations could become more important than resumes, portfolios and credit scores.

Our digital footprints are already considered by others when determining if they want to hire or do business with us. And many people don’t even have a traditional resume anymore, but have substituted it with a LinkedIn profile.

Forbes goes through a handful of questions and offers its own answers on the topic. Yes, everything we do on the Web, from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn, is becoming more and more connected, meaning that they influence one another as well as how others perceive us. But, there are a few things that the article misses the mark on.

For example, it says “use only the most secure sites for online transactions; and put all settings on the most restrictive possible.” It goes on to add that certain information will likely still seep out for companies to grab and use to target ads or other initiatives at you. But look at the holes in what the article says.

How do you know if a site qualifies as secure before conducting online transactions? And if a social media or other online platform has horrendous privacy settings, how does setting them to “the most restrictive possible” do you any good?

We don’t need generic rules to follow. Instead, we must cultivate a better understanding of internet privacy and online reputation management, so that we can take the steps necessary to protect ourselves. This doesn’t just apply to individuals, but businesses as well. Just like employers evaluate current and prospective employees through the lens of their digital reputations, so do consumers judge companies from which they might purchase goods and services.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.