Could Your Group's Reputation Hurt Your Chances of Winning?

Guest Columns

Sandi Lilly is a freelance writer with five years of on and offline experience. She has been published in B2B Magazine, the Main ARTery Magazine and has written multiple articles for Livestrong.com and Chron.com. She works from her home in West Virginia while homeschooling her two children.

If you're a performer of any type, you're always in the public eye. This is especially true for members of a cappella groups, as they work to achieve competitive goals and receive recognition for their group and its members. Most professional performers are well aware of the importance of decorum and mannerisms while onstage, in front of an audience. However, musicians may not always think about how important it is to monitor their broader reputation, including the way they are perceived online.

It's easier than you'd think to manage your online reputation by following a few simple steps.

Restrict Access to Personal Material
First, keep careful tabs on what information strangers can find out about you using the internet. Try putting your name into a search engine – you may be unpleasantly surprised at what turns up. If you are regularly in the public eye, it may serve you well to restrict public access to private online areas, such as social networking sites. While your friends may thoroughly enjoy the pictures from your last birthday dinner, do you really want potential judges to see those photos of you in a giant sombrero, knocking back margaritas? If your answer is a horrified “No!”, it may be time to lock down your privacy settings.

Put Your Best Foot Forward Online
Performers should also keep in mind that anything they type online can be found relatively easily. In just a few minutes, a dedicated researcher can match your given name with most, if not all, of your internet pseudonyms and email addresses. This means that if you're posting in an online forum, you should be prepared that someday, someone you know may read your words. For this reason, it's important to always put your best foot forward.

Avoid cursing, trolling, random rants, and hate speech – if you write it online, be prepared to own your words someday down the road. This is often at the least opportune moment, when it could affect your reputation, or that of your a cappella group. It's much easier to simply refrain from posting something negative in the first place.

Build an Online Business Card
More and more frequently, when agents, writers, and other members of the press look for information about an individual, they turn to the internet. Take some time to set up a basic LinkedIn profile so that it's easy to find positive information about you online.

If your group performs regularly in the same geographical area, consider setting up a small website. Web design is relatively inexpensive; in fact, you may be able to develop a site yourself if you have a few hours to spare. This positive online presence makes it easy to share information about your group when you're asked, and it may result in more gigs and competitions.

Be Aware of Your Behavior in Public Spaces
As a performer, it's absolutely crucial that you're aware of your behavior in public spaces. As smartphones become more popular, it's easier than ever to catch words or actions on video and post them online within minutes. You never know who's watching you, so be sure to act in a professional manner – after all, do you really want to be the next funny video on YouTube?

When you compete in an a cappella group, remember how important managing your online reputation can be. Take the time to keep your social networking posts private, to be aware of your public behavior, and to think before you post in public online forums. Spend some time working to develop a positive online profile for yourself and your group, so that it's easy for judges and those who may be booking your group to find accurate information about you.

Over time, you'll find that growing an online following and managing how people see you is well worth the effort.