Instead, note this quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin:
"It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."
This is usually quoted as a warning about the one bad deed, but you can also think about the many good deeds. For most businesses, building an on-line reputation is a series of many small good deeds. So it is a commitment, but not a large commitment.
Let's look at 20 easy, practical ways to participate in various on-line communities. Each of these takes less than ten minutes to do, so they only take discipline, not a big time commitment.
1. Expand your LinkedIn network by connecting with somebody new (somebody you know who you're not currently connected to on LinkedIn).
2. Look through your LinkedIn connections, and write a recommendation for somebody you know. Be sincere, specific and brief.
3. LinkedIn groups are for members with common interests. Join a relevant group and contribute to a discussion. Be positive in your comments and build on existing comments in the discussion, especially if you're new to the group.
4. Browse the "Answers" section on LinkedIn, and answer a question in your area of expertise. LinkedIn shows these questions and answers to people beyond your direct connections, so this is a good way to demonstrate your expertise to more people.
1. Promote somebody else on Twitter - an award they have won, an event they are running, a book they have written, a sale they are offering, and so on.
2. Check Twitter right now, find something you like (for example, a link to an interesting Web site or blog post), and re-tweet it to your network. This helps the original tweeter, because you're sharing her insights with your network; and it helps you, because you become known among your followers as a source of valuable information.
3. Find an interesting article, blog post or Web site, and send it to your Twitter followers.
4. Thank somebody publicly on Twitter. Include their Twitter name (e.g. @gihanperera) so they see it, but the main purpose is to tell your followers why you're grateful to that person.
1. Look through your friends' recent status updates, find one you like, and click the "Like" link next to that update. It's a simple way to give a small note of encouragement to a friend, customer or colleague. It also helps them spread the word, because this appears in your status update, which means your other friends see it.
2. Look through your friends' recent status updates, find something you can comment on, and add a comment. Facebook is primarily for connecting with family and friends, so you don't have to write anything clever or profound. Just something simple and sincere will do.
3. Search for interesting groups or business pages on Facebook, join one that looks relevant, and contribute to a discussion.
4. Connect with somebody new on Facebook (somebody you know personally, but isn't already a Facebook friend).
1. Write a review on Amazon.com for a book you read and liked. You don't have to write a long review - just a few paragraphs will do. This not only boosts your own Internet presence, it also helps the author promote their book, and helps other customers learn more about the book before buying it.
2. What are your favourite apps on your smart phone? Pick one, and write a positive review for it in the iTunes App Store or the Android Market.
3. If you enjoy listening to a particular podcast regularly, take a few minutes to write a positive review for it in the iTunes Store. This helps the podcast author, because it makes them feel valued, it boosts their ranking in iTunes, and it encourages other comments as well.
4. Many podcasts also have an accompanying Web site, so visit that site and leave a positive comment there as well.
1. Find a blog post you enjoyed reading, and write a positive comment on that post. Bloggers love comments on their blog, so they will appreciate you taking the time to write a comment.
2. Find a video you like on YouTube, and add a comment. YouTube has a handy option to automatically notify your Twitter and Facebook followers every time you comment, so use that for greater leverage.
3. Comment in an on-line discussion group you've joined. If possible, add to the discussion in your comment, rather than just saying, "I love it!" or "Thank you". If you can't think of anything new, simply explain why you liked it (how you applied the idea, what insights you got from it, and so on).
4. Think of two people in your network who don't yet know each other - but should - and introduce them to each other. All you have to do is send an e-mail to both, explaining briefly what each other does and why you think they should connect. They now have each other's e-mail address, so leave it to them to follow up if they wish.
That gives you 20 ideas you can use immediately to build your on-line reputation - and that's just a small sample of what you can do. I've limited this list to general ideas anybody could use, but of course you might find more specific things as well, based on the on-line communities you participate in.