The image that is presented online through social networking websites is a person’s own personal brand, easily accessed and readily available 24 hours a day to anyone with an internet connection. Personal opinions and first impressions are formed based on what is seen on these social media websites, and both are very hard to change once set.
Participating in a social network can be fun and entertaining, even exhilarating. People will often belong to two or more of these sites, and accept a new Friend or new Contact on a regular basis. This new online acquaintance will then have access to a fair amount of personal information.
Internet Search Engines
The enjoyment of online social networking has resulted in the occasional miss in the way people portray themselves, or allow themselves to be portrayed. It is now quite common that someone will Google a person they have not yet met, or are about to meet, and follow the links to that person’s various networking sites. This will quite likely include an HR manager performing an online search of a new applicant.
For instance in Facebook, it is crucial that security settings are properly adjusted. While many people have been mindful with the pictures or videos they have shared, it is simple to follow Friends of Friends and access any of their content that has been tagged with an individual’s name. Privacy Settings need to be visited and adjusted accordingly, on all networking sites.
It is also important that a consistent image is portrayed across the various social networking sites that a person belongs to. Despite the fact that Facebook is a casual, family and friends network site, and LinkedIn is a professional, business networking site, a single Google search will turn up links to both. A ‘wild party’ image portrayed on Facebook will clash with the ‘focused business professional’ image that colleagues or a future employer will see on LinkedIn. Members need to think twice about any pictures that are being considered for posting, and decide if they enhance or detract from the overall image presented.
In addition, all participants need to be careful of who they accept into their social networks, particularly LinkedIn. It is now becoming common practice for a hiring manager to contact one or more of an applicant’s LinkedIn connections for a character reference. Members must make sure their connections are people they are proud to know, and who think well of them.
Time Well Spent
Social networking sites are not only fun to belong to, they can be extremely useful as well – as the name implies networking through sites such as LinkedIn can be very good for an individual’s career. Time should be taken to look at the overall image that an individual’s various memberships and profiles present to confirm it matches the image that they want other people to come away with. Everyone who is participating in social networking is well advised to perform an internet search on his or her own name.
Following all of the links back to their own various profiles will give a complete picture of the image being presented to the world.