May 15, 2010

Why Personal & Professional Profiles Must Be Like Church & State

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:07 pm by R

Our forefathers in their great wisdom saw fit to separate church and state so as to divide two volatile and sometimes conflicting arenas. Such is the case with personal and professional information in social media.

This is why God invented professional networks like LinkedIn and (ridiculously difficult) privacy settings on Facebook so that you could segregate the professional from the personal and put up firewalls where the professional might peer over into the personal. But there are some places where the only protection and privacy you have is your own good judgement.

Because of this, I’d like to post some Emily Post-esque advice for those of you who exist in that delicate gray area where personal and professional collide.

  1. Where’s my personal space? — Figure this out, then lock that area down! Set privacy that makes sense, and don’t compromise on who gets in this area…not even once!
  2. What goes in my professional space? — Do you blog professionally? Cool. That can go in your professional space. Does your Twitter stay professional? Awesome, that can go in your professional space. Do you support a religious or political group and make statements in support of them — hold it. In the same way that it’s dangerous to bring up religion or politics at dinner parties, it’s also dangerous to bring them up in social media where professional connections can see…and judge.
  3. If my boss saw this would I blush (or get fired)? — This is the first question you should ask yourself before posting anything, anywhere. There are ways…just know there are ways…Google has a long memory. Plus, who knows what changes Facebook will make to privacy and if you don’t catch that change and personal information that could potentially effect you professionally becomes available, well, it might not be pretty.
  4. Do the people I let in my network know me well enough to know what I mean? This is a complex question, but one you just have to ask. Whether in a personal or professional setting, you need to know your audience. And you need to know if they know you well enough to understand a sarcastic joke or personal position on a topic. This applies to both areas. There’s no icon — or better yet , font — for sarcasm, so the crowd you communicate with needs to be one who  gets you. If not, it’s better to monitor yourself and your content for things that may be taken the wrong way and could leave you in a bad position.

There are a lot of potholes on the social media highway and, give recent trends, they’ll only get bigger. As with so many things in the social space, you have  to be your own best advocate and protector when it comes to maintaining privacy and also your personal and professional brands.


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