In the age of social media, managing your online reputation is more important than ever. Whether or not you have actively developed an online presence, you must protect your reputation just as you would protect your credit rating. Anyone can post information about you, so you need to regularly check for online activity connected to your name. Of course, it’s better to develop your own online presence—that way you’re in control of generating positive search results through your website, online posts and profiles.

The use of social media helps to build your online reputation, giving you exposure that was simply unavailable a few years ago. It will also help you build a larger network of business contacts, is a standout tool for communicating with clients and prospects and is incredibly beneficial when it comes to converting referrals into clients.

One of the easiest ways to monitor your reputation is by setting up a Google alert, which will inform you of anything appearing online that’s related to your business. Google will send you email updates on the latest relevant search results on your choice of topics. By setting up an alert using your name and your firm’s name, you can get up-to-the-minute reports of online activity along with links to that activity.

It’s better to know what is being said about you than to be in dark. If you become aware of a problem related to your reputation, you can do something about it. In today’s online word, that’s just good business.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com