I read an article in my online travels stating that some may have to literally change their names because so much of what they posted online would be embarrassing down the road. Particularly across social channels where their commentary would not be viewed as complimentary (especially by potential employers).
Speaking from experience, I have chosen not to do business with folks based on what I see on their social channels. Lesson #1: Keep business and personal accounts separate!
That is why a new field of services offering reputation management have sprouted up. Why are these services necessary? Apparently many assume everything they post just diminishes into the nether-lands. Or that it would be not found or even searched for in the first place. The reality is that is not the case. The best reputation management is you thinking before doing, sharing or reacting.
Having been online longer than most, I have always been cognizant of this fact. From the very beginning. I’ve kept my personal life off-line for the most part. Except for enough to let folks know I am a real human being 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 off-line. However, when it came to my online life and commenting in discussion groups, forums, boards, lists, websites or by email I am always on my best professional behavior.
I always knew that whatever I wrote would reside on some hard drive or server out there. Out of my control to delete after the fact.
What Happens Online Stays Online
I’ve never flamed on forums, sworn in emails, gone tit-for-tat with anyone online. Ever.
Being right, proving my point or having to get in the last word was never something that was 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 sticking up for myself. But there is a time, place and way to do that if 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 odd-ball. Not exposing personal, private or what some may view as controversial info when online is something that has always come natural to me.
But for those who feel the need to share every bit, every moment, every thought, here are some tips you may want to consider.
Because… What Happens Online, Stays Online!
- Never type anything in an email that you wouldn’t mind your Mother reading.
- Before posting a photo, ask yourself if you don’t mind it being publicly available online in 10, 15, 20 years from now.
- Never post potentially embarrassing photos of others without their permission.
- There is no room for profanities online. 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 contact or location information of others without their permission.
- Use email as a communication tool that reflects your command of the written word.
Yes, I get that some folks live online, 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 that well? They’ll be able to see the choices you made about how you communicate. They’ll get an idea about what you thought was important or humorous. That just may come back to haunt you…
Control your own destiny or someone else will. ~Jack Welch