Don’t let your clients or the competition define who you are
You’ve spent years becoming an expert. You’ve worked hard to gain the respect of your peers. You’ve served your clients well and you’ve earned your good name and reputation. Then with one negative review on an online site and suddenly the phones don’t ring as much. Everything you’ve worked so hard to build is… Well, not going so well.
You’ve probably heard that the online world is a lot like the Wild West – Except there is no sheriff. It doesn’t take much for “bad press” to spread like wild fire. Before you know it the internet was put that review in front of thousands and maybe even millions of people.
If you don’t protect your reputation no one else will
Before you can take steps to defend your online reputation you need to understand what’s being said about you online. And then put the tools in place to keep monitoring it.
First enter your name and practice into a search engine take stock of what’s there. Your might want to search for your specialty and the city you practice in to see how well you rank. There are 4 types of profiles you can have online. You can read more about what you might when you search for yourself here.
The next 3 Steps to managing your online reputation
- Own your name – Register your FirstAndLastName.com. Search engines still rank exact keyword matches high in the results. Fill this website with favorable and optimized content about your professional history, education, experience and achievements.
- Claim online profiles – There are plenty of opportunities to establish a presence in directories or networking sites. And it seems like more are showing up every day. There’s no reason to go overboard but there are 2 areas you have to cover.
Key Review Sites – Google ranks consumer review sites very highly. So joining key review website for your industry gives you some more real estate where you can position yourself and your expertise. It will also be easier to manage the impact of any negative reviews.
Social Media – It’s inevitable. And while you don’t have to be rally active, you can’t be completely dormant either. The fact is that search engines rank the major social sites well (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube). So at least claim your profile on these sites. Fill them out as fully as you can, optimize your bio and customizing the URL. And it can’t hurt if you post an update once in a while.
- Share your expertise – Set up a personal blog. If you followed the advice above you can use your personal website. Create quality content that will inform and educate your clients. Find opportunities to contribute to third party publications and blog sites. This will help establish your credibility in the eyes of potential clients. Make sure you are taking advantage of Google Authorship. I’ll write more about his later – stay tuned.
Continue to track how you, and your practice, appear in search results
Staying on top of news about you online is one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent the spread of negative stories. So sign up for an online alert tool that will email you updates when your name is mentioned online.
Google Alert is one free option. However, I’ve been getting better results with another free tool found at Talwalker.com
Business need to look to people to understand what it means to be loyal
There is no question that the world has become more social. Just take a look at the rise any all social media. We used to think that regular updates and sharing were something only the “kids” did. But we’ve all witness the not so slow adaption of the internet, mobile and social media within the older generations.
If you’re not happy with the quality of your clients – look towards relationships
In 1998 Psychologist Mark Knapp developed the most widely accepted model that describes the rise and fall of relationships in 10 stages. Today I want to share with you the first 5 stages that describe how we form inter-personal relationships.
What I find interesting is how closely it mirrors a consumer’s decision making process when it comes to buying Medical, Dental or Legal services. Although the stages are especially descriptive of intimate relationships and close friendships, we can’t ignore what they tell us about attracting and keeping loyal clients.
Mark Knapp’s 5 Stages of building solid relationships
- Initiating: Expressing interest in making contact and showing that you are the kind of person worth getting to know. Is this what your advertising is telling prospective clients?
- Probing: The process of getting to know each other and gaining more information about them. Does your website really help your clients know who you are and what you’re practice is about? Do you let them reach out and tell you something about them?
Many relationships stall right here. We remain acquaintances never developing into anything more. Unfortunately that’s also true for most businesses. How about yours?
- Intensifying: An interpersonal relationship is now beginning to emerge. Forms of address become more familiar, commitment is now openly expresses, and the parties begin to see themselves as “we” instead of separate individuals. Can you say that about your clients? Does a sale feel like the beginning of something great?
- Integrating: Begin to identify as a social unit. Partners develop unique, ritualistic ways of behaving. Obligation to the other person increases. Do your clients feel like they are part of an exclusive club? Or are they just like everyone else that walks through the door?
- Bonding: People make symbolic gestures to show society that their relationship exists (rings, friendship bracelets, gifts, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.). The key to maintaining a relationship at this stage include sharing power equally, emphasizing positive and constructive communication, and making frequent connections with each other. What’s your client follow-up like?
Is your entire practice focused on building solid, long term relationships or just completing the next transaction? Let me know what you think?
What do Doctors, Dentists and Lawyers need to know about their online reputations
In case you still think what your patients or clients find online doesn’t matter
44% of people look online for information about a DOCTOR or other HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
57% of people looking for an ATTORNEY looked online to evaluate the LAWYER or LAW FIRM
39% of people using a search engine to find a local business are looking for MEDICAL or DENTAL SERVICES
55% of people use an online resource to find and evaluate their CHIROPRACTOR
And these numbers are only trending upward. At this point there should be no doubt that what potential patients or clients find when looking online matters. And if they’re looking it’s going to impact your business.
These are the FOUR THINGS your clients might find and what you should do about it
- POSITIVE INFORMATION – Congratulations! They’ll see plenty of images, bios, and client reviews. They’ll see you interacting on social media and they’ll appreciate the timely information you’ve shared and analysis you’ve offered. Your website is really engaging and might even have a video or two.
NEXT STEPS – You’ve obviously spent good time or money claiming your reputation online. You’ll stand out from the crowd but now is not the time to get lazy. Maintain your listing and engage your existing clients by continuing to share fresh and up to date content.
- NEUTRAL INFORMATION – No Worries! You show up but the information is scarce, incomplete or out of date. There are very few images that help confirm your identity. Your website is listed on the first page but it’s little more than an online calling card. There’s nothing on it to instill real confidence in the decision to call your office or not.
NEXT STEPS - You’re not completely in the clear. Sometimes what people don’t find can have the same effect as bad information. To start, register your profile with key industry directories. Make sure that all images you use are search engine optimized. Now is a good time to start incorporating social media into your practice. You don’t have to do everything at once. But you do have to do it. If you don’t have the time, hire someone. The results will speak for themselves.
- CONFUSING INFORMATION – This could be a problem. It depends on exactly what shows up. It could be someone else with your name dominates the search. Or maybe you share the space. If you have a strong presence it might just shine through the congestion.
NEXT STEPS – Try the steps I recommend for Number 2 above. But if you’re not getting the results you want you probably need to seek one-on-one professional advice.
- NEGATIVE INFORMATION – You’ve got a problem! Any number of negative results could be costing you serious money. You need to address this as quickly as possible. Just like in life it could take a long time to change your reputation.
NEXT STEPS – DO NOT TRY TO FIX THIS ON YOUR OWN. You could end up making this even worse. And maybe even impossible to correct. You need professional help so hire someone.
It’s very unlikely you’ll find absolutely nothing about you online if you search for your name or practice. With the availability of public records something is bound to show up.
But if you do find that there is nothing about you online then make sure you let me know.