Last summer, I read an article on Forbes.com titled “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get.” While the title may make you bristle, it’s a good read with some great advice. Here’s one point that stood out and reminded me of my work with dental students: “Your reputation is priceless, don’t damage it – over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity. Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure. It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.”
The idea of your reputation being priceless is especially true for health professionals. All the CE credits in the world can’t buy back a blunder to your reputation. But what you might not consider is that you’re building your professional reputation right now. Here are some things you can do now to make sure you begin your career with a reputation you can build upon:
Edit your social media usage
If you’ve been using Facebook and Twitter since your undergrad days, you’ve probably accumulated quite a few friends, photos and posts that divulge personal information. Start cleaning up your online image now. This not only means Googling yourself and making sure that your Facebook profile is on “friends only” lock down, but it might also mean removing photos or deleting posts. Chances are, you’ve posted a picture or said something on your wall in the past 8-10 years that you wouldn’t want your dental school’s dean to see. Just remove it.
From now on, just think before you post. Ask friends not to tag you in unflattering photos and only post things that you wouldn’t mind a future employer or patient finding (like photos of your dog, nephew or breakfast).
Find out what comes up when you Google your name (if you have a common name, you may have to add a few more details to your search query). Also consider setting up Google Alerts for yourself. You’ll be the first to know when an ASDA article you wrote was published online or if your dental school’s website mentioned you. This is a good way to monitor your web reputation going forward.
Prepare yourself for the future
There are always going to be angry Yelp reviews when you’re a dentist (Here’s how Dr. Chris Salierno copes with his Yelp reviews). Just like you’re mom said–you can’t make everyone happy. But you can do your best at presenting yourself as a trustworthy health professional online and off. So much of your reputation has to do with things you learned in kindergarten, but let’s review:
- Never ever lie. This means that if your clinic director asks why you were absent or need to miss a day, you tell the truth (no matter what). Telling the truth is so much easier than creating “white lies” anyway.
- Do what you believe is right, even if it’s harder and takes longer.
- Take responsibility for your actions. It’s admirable and people will respect you for it.
The truth is, your online reputation is still a reflection of who you are. No one can post an incriminating photo of you if you don’t act in an incriminating way in the first place. And while bad Yelp reviews may creep up on even the most amazing dentist’s page, they’ll be outweighed by the glowing reviews at the end of the day. So protect your reputation the best you can–your 40-year-old self with thank you.
How have you cleaned up your online reputation since dental school? Tell us in the comments below!
~Kim Schneider, publications manager