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What Happens Online, Stays Online…

Be very careful what you say online -- it could impact your future.

I recently read an article stating that some folks may have to change their names because so much of what they post online would be embarrassing down the road. Particularly across social channels, their commentary would not be viewed as complementary (especially by potential employers).

Even if you delete you wipe your accounts clean or delete them, there are still archives out there to find older postings. And who knows how many servers have copies of backup emails?

Speaking from experience, I have chosen not to do business with specific individuals based on what I see on their social channels. Lesson #1: Keep business and personal accounts separate!

Reputation Management

That is why a new field of services offering reputation management has sprouted up. Why are these services necessary?

Many assume everything they post diminishes into the ether. Or that it would not be found or even searched for in the first place.

The reality is that is not the case. The best reputation management is thinking before doing, sharing, or reacting.

This Isn’t About Free Speech

You are free to say anything you want. Just realize that there may be repercussions for doing so. Right or wrong, that is the current state of affairs, and you cannot ignore the possible impact.

Having been online longer than most, I have been aware of this from the beginning.

I’ve kept my personal life offline for the most part. Except enough to let folks know I am human when they visit my websites. You can see an example on my consulting site where I post 17 Tidbits that make me who I am.

Other than that, a little personal stuff here or there on forums or groups, my life is offline. However, I am always on my best professional behavior when it comes to my online life and commenting in discussion groups, forums, boards, lists, websites, or by email.


I invariably knew that whatever I wrote would reside on some hard drive or server. Out of my control to delete after the fact. Plus, it is not my personality to be abrasive or terse with those I don’t know.

What Happens Online Stays Online

I’ve never flamed on forums, sworn in emails, or gone tit-for-tat with anyone online. Ever.

Being right, proving my point, or having to get in the last word was never important to me. Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not milk-toast.

I am very opinionated and not a pushover. I am confident in what I do and have no qualms about sticking up for myself. But there is a time, place, and way to do that when necessary.

Nor have I felt the innate need to publish everywhere I go, what I ate, my latest gripe or ailment. I guess that makes me an oddball.

Not exposing personal, private, or what some may view as controversial information online has always come naturally to me. Maybe it is because I don’t need strangers to weigh in on my life?

But for those who need to share every bit, moment, and thought, here are some tips you may want to consider.

Because… What Happens Online, Stays Online!

  • Never type anything in an email you wouldn’t mind your Mother reading.
  • Before posting a photo, ask yourself if you don’t mind it being publicly available online 10, 15, or 20 years from now.
  • Never post potentially embarrassing photos of others without their permission.
  • There is no room for profanities online. I never saw a sentence or conversation that could not have been relayed without swearing.
  • Don’t type anything that you would not say face-to-face.
  • Be careful about sharing personal contact and location information with strangers.
  • Never share the contact or location information of others without their permission.
  • Email is a communication tool that reflects your command of the written word.

Yes, I get that some folks live online, and that’s fine. Just realize the potential for abuse, misunderstandings, and negative perceptions — years from now.

How will you be viewed down the road by those who do not know you well? They’ll be able to see your choices about how you communicated today. They’ll get an idea about what you thought was essential or humorous.

That just may come back to haunt you…

Control your own destiny, or someone
else will.
Jack Welch
Get the word out...