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Bite Your Tongue

If you're afraid of what people will find if they do an online search of your name or company, follow this tips to clean up your image.

This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

If a potential client were to plug my name into a search engine to get the scoop on the real me, he or she would find:

questions and advice I posted to freelance writers' discussion boards;

articles I've written for online magazines, plus my own Web site; and

a really, really (and I mean really) smutty joke called "Blowing Chunks" that I posted to a moderated humor e-mail list in 1995.

The good news is, the Internet lets you keep in contact with your customers and potential customers quickly, easily and cheaply. The bad news, according to John R. Levine, co-author of The Internet for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide), is that everything you've ever posted, sent or created online is probably still out there somewhere, waiting for the chance to blindside you and your business.

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