By Francesca James

Nearly half of key decision makers in the UK do not proactively manage their online reputation according to new research by Profiled.com.

44 per cent of business people said that they didn’t take any measures to control the information available about them on the internet leaving their reputation open to interpretation from others.

Surprisingly, Brits are keeping pace with tech savvy Americans when it comes to online reputation management, with the latest research coming out of the US by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life project showing that 57 per cent of adult internet users admitted to ‘Googling’ themselves compared with 56 per cent in the UK survey.

However, Steve Wainwright, chief executive of Profiled.com, a website that helps business professionals manage their online reputations, says that British business people are still not doing enough to control their online profile.

“Almost half of internet users have researched someone whose services or advice they have sought in a professional capacity, so monitoring what the internet is saying about you is absolutely vital in getting that next deal. You simply can’t afford to leave it to chance.”

But managing your online reputation is still considered a minefield for time-poor executives who are swamped by the amount of information on the internet. Of those surveyed in the US who admitted to ‘Googling’ themselves, 35 per cent said that their queries did not yield any relevant results whatsoever and only two per cent regularly checked what people were saying about them.

Steve Wainwright can sympathise with those struggling to profile themselves for business purposes in the crowded world of the internet.

He said: “When I search for Steve Wainwright all kinds of results come up such as an astronomer and a professor of biomedicine. It’s important to create a professional profile and use it in your everyday business life to remove the possibility of your identity being confused with others.

“It’s even more important to automate the monitoring of what people are saying about you on the internet as most people don’t have the time to do it properly.”

Profiled.com’s research, carried out by YouGov, also revealed that SME owners or those who have just started out in business and who are much more dependent on the profiles of their key individuals, are far more likely to manage their reputation online (57 per cent) than those whose businesses are turning over more than £3 million (37 per cent).

Unsurprisingly, both the US and UK research found that young people are more likely to proactively protect their online reputations than people aged 45 and above.

Online reputation monitoring has risen by over 20 per cent since 2006 according to PeW’s US research and much of this can be attributed to the success of social networking sites and the increase in ways to access the internet.

For more information visit www.profiled.com