There's no doubt that social networking sites such as Facebook are fun, but do you exercise caution before you post? More than likely you don't. However, you could be damaging your career and your online reputation when you post risqué content.

Here are 13 ways you can improve your online reputation (if it needs it of course).

1. Double-check privacy settings

A lot of people compartmentalise - using LinkedIn as their professional network for colleagues and clients and Facebook as their network for family and friends, said Richard Binhammer, responsible for conversations, communities and communications at Dell.

"That's fine, you can compartmentalise that way, but the fact is both of them are searchable, so if an employer wants to go to Facebook and search you and find those things, well they can unless you've protected them from being found," he said.

2. Don't neglect your social network accounts

Letting an account go stale is a big concern, said Paolo Pasquini, spokesperson for consumer and online at Microsoft.

"What happens when you join the LinkedIn community and then you neglect it because you're busy with your Facebook pages or your blog site...your LinkedIn [shows] two companies ago where you used to work and it may have a contact or profile or personal information that's no longer relevant," he said.

If you have several accounts, Pasquini suggested using an aggregator that makes it easier to create content once and publish in multiple places. For example, Windows Live recently announced a partnership with Facebook and already maintains partnerships with LinkedIn and Twitter," he said.

3. Maintain a consistent personal brand

"When you realise that you can't control all your personal information... you embrace the ability to surrender some of that privacy so you can have this proactive brand online. I like to tell people to think of it as your personal corporate logo. When people think of me, what do I want them to get? That should be consistent across all the places where you are actively socialising," said Pasquini.

4. Honour transparency

"Some folks at Dell are active on social media sites... they are much more comfortable saying, 'I am always going to be a Dell employee'. Every time I speak or say anything at all, it's always going to be me as a Dell employee," said Lionel Menchaca, chief blogger at Dell.

"I'm part of that other crowd, where there's a value of having both a balance between my personal interests and being a representative of Dell... the only rule we've got is you need to be transparent in that if you're talking about an industry issue or providing a Dell perspective, you're making it clear that you are an employee of the company," he said.

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  1. Don't let your online life ruin your career
  2. Honour transparency and create a personal website
  3. Participate in online communities
  4. Honour transparency and create a personal website