Building strong client relationships can go a long way in establishing a reputation both in the “real world” and online, but financial advisors shouldn’t assume that their face-to-face efforts are automatically uploaded to the Internet.

“Just by going out and being a good person and doing the right things doesn’t mean you’ll get a good online reputation,” says Matt Earle, president of

Instead, fostering a reputation online requires you to build profiles and content that will catch the attention of search engines. It’s best to focus on platforms that are likely to end up within the top 10 results in a Google search of your name and company.

Besides establishing a website for your business, creating profiles on websites such as LinkedIn and are key steps in crafting an online reputation. Regular contributions to investment industry media sources or blogs can also catch the attention of search engines.

As well, similar to the way you might ask for referrals, you can also encourage clients to leave positive reviews on sites such as Yelp, says Loic Jeanjean, director of sales and marketing with Advisor Websites in Vancouver. Positive reviews can balance or outweigh anything negative that a prospective client may see when researching your practice online.

Finally, profiles on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook will attract the attention of Google and can help you build a community of clients, prospects and connections who (hopefully) will give your reputation online a boost.

“One of the advantages of building these [online] communities,” says Geoff Evans, founder of the Social Media Coach in London, Ont., “is you create a lot of advocates who are willing to support you [and] who can say a lot of things that you never could.”

As you set out to build a social media community, think carefully about how you will allocate your time. Says Evans: “It shouldn’t be a full-time job.” Consider choosing one platform that is most likely to be used by your clients and prospects and focus on building a presence on that network.

Most important, remember that social media networks are a place to communicate with people — not sell products. “You’re building a community of like-minded individuals,” says Evans. “You have to connect with them across a wide variety of subject matter to keep them interested.”

For example, you could discuss community events and let people know a little bit about who you are as an individual. Staying clear of sales pitches online will also keep you on your compliance officer’s good side.

A strong online community can help in the event that you receive some less than flattering feedback. “If you have a Facebook page that has a few hundred fans, who really enjoy their time connecting with you in that space,” says Evans, “they would be the first to come in and defend you if someone were to come along and say something negative.”

Building a presence on social media is not without its risks, however. For example, Earle cautions that sharing too much personal information on a public Facebook page could put you at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. Or, should you become involved in a lawsuit, it’s possible for information posted on a Facebook page to be used as evidence in court.

This is the third article in a three-part series on image rehabilitation.