September 06, 2012

Rules for Social Media: Keep it Professional or Keep it Private

Social media can be your best friend of worst enemy when it comes to starting your career, getting your big break, getting into college, or getting a job or internship. To save you from missing out on an opportunity because of something you posted online, we're creating a set of social media "rules" - things you should and shouldn't do to build a positive impression online. Let's start with the most important one:

Keep It Professional or Keep it Private

Think of this as the "golden rule" of your online presence regardless of what site you are using. If feel like you really need a place to be your uncensored self and share your frustrations, political thoughts, or party photos, then make use of privacy settings. This also means that you shouldn't add professional contacts to this private account. If you still want a place to keep it touch with industry frieds, then consider maintaining a separate public profile or managing what you say on the profiles you choose to share with the public an professional contacts.

This doesn't mean you have to be afraid to show your personality online, just that you should try do so in the most positive light possible. You can still share photos, jokes, hobbies, quotes, and interests without showing things that might make you seem more like a reality show cast member than a future CEO. Your potential college or boss can and will Google you and what they find will influence their decision. So, avoid sharing anything controversial (politics), illegal (drug use or underage drinking), or offensive (derogatory terms or curses) or at very least keep it private and protected from professional contacts.

What do you think? How do you use social media?
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