Digital footprints in the sand…

Most of us spend a lot of time networking – digitally – with family, friends and colleagues.  But are you aware that wherever you tread, you are leaving your footprint, for others to find and follow?  This digital footprint can be used to your advantage – or it can come back to haunt you (as often reported in the news with celebrities and politicians).

Having a well respected digital footprint can be a very good thing – so let’s have a quick look at it and see how you can try to ensure it works for you and not against you.

What is it?

Everything anyone can findabout you on the Internet – in blog posts, Facebook, discussion boards, photos etc


How can you find out what’s out there?

Search for yourself using a search engine e.g. Google.

Better still, set up an alert using Google Alerts ) so that you get updates when anything new is posted about you, or existing information is updated.

Make the most of your footprint

One of the first things many prospective employers or sponsors do is check your digital footprint (they use Google too….) – so work on building a good one.

Make worthwhile contributions to blogs and discussion boards, write your own blog(s) about things you are researching, studying or interested in. Join a professional networking site e.g. LinkedIn to increase the visibility of your CV and achievements to prospective employers.

Update your footprint regularly.

Be aware of your footprint

Manage your contributions to social networking sites carefully – once it’s out there it stays there.

If you don’t want to share your online information with everyone make sure you understand how the privacy settings on the site affect what is posted and set them accordingly.

Consider setting up 2 online identities – a professional one and a personal one – and use a nickname for your personal one.

Minimise the amount of private information you make publicly available – the more someone knows about you the easier it is for them to pretend to be you.

Monitor what others are posting and writing about you – and be careful who you trust (online and offline) – you might not be the only person posting on your behalf!

And finally…

Online social networking often feels a lot safer and more secure than it really is because you usually use it from an environment you are comfortable in – at home, in the cafe, in the library, on the train.

Keep your wits about you – and just as you wouldn’t speak to a stranger in the street and tell them your home address or the pin number of your bank account – don’t reveal anything online that you aren’t prepared to make public.

University related policies

All Information Governance and IT policies can be viewed at

See also

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