Is your Personal Online Image Ruining your Business Prospects?
Written on the 29 November 2010 by Altitude Communications
Discover the secrets to ensuring your professional image stays professional.
Technology has certainly provided many advantages and short-cuts to doing business; there is absolutely no question about it. Potential customers overseas, interstate and locally can purchase from you following a simple online search, with the potential to grow your business and profits beyond your wildest dreams. The other opportunity technology has provided is to network online via blogs, forums, networking groups such as Facebook, Myspace and other niche and business/industry related networking sites. These groups are beneficial as they can provide potential clients, contacts, business associates, support and advice. However, the danger is that they could also be tarnishing your business profile and reputation.
It is worthwhile to check whether your personal Facebook and blogging image online matches with your business/professional image. For example, your friends might find it hilarious to see photos of you drunk and passed out during your latest weekend drinking binge on Facebook, but, as the Partner of a respected law firm, do you think this is an image that will instill confidence and respect among your clients? The problem is that while you are most certainly entitled to a private life, away from work, your customers and business associates’ confidence and respect in you and your work may be lessened due to your private behaviour, or misbehaviour, as it were.
This used to only be a problem in small communities, where everybody knows one another; however, because it is a fact of life there, residents could more easily accept that their local policeman also enjoys a pint or two at the local pub. Unfortunately, this is not the case in metropolitan areas. While your clients and business associates may not personally witness you letting loose on a Saturday night, or physically involved in a public and aggressive public protest against a particular political party, they can very easily find out about all of your antics online.
There is little point building a professional business website and knowledgeable industry blog if a Google search will also find you ranting and raving in a forum session on a hobby or interest of yours (particularly if that hobby or interest could be considered unsavory). Unfortunately, if a prospective client or employer is considering hiring you, an increasing number are performing Google searches to find out more about your experience in the industry, and, at the very least, it could prove very embarrassing for you if you are picked up commentating on less than flattering blogs and forums.
So, given that everyone is entitled to both a personal life that includes their hobbies and interests, as well as a professional business image, how do you go about preventing your personal image being tarnished online? The simple answer is to take this into consideration every time you post anything online containing your name.
If you do, however, want to speak out about a particular controversial cause, unrelated to your business, or post less than flattering images on a Facebook account of yourself enjoying life, for your personal friends and family members to see, then you may wish to consider creating a separate identity for yourself, where you cannot be linked to your business image. Do you have a nickname or alliance that you can post under? This way, you are still enjoying your right to free speech and enjoyment of everything technology has to offer, while ensuring your professional image remains intact.
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