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September 17, 2009
Living your Life Online
 

The world of social networking is growing bigger and faster. More connections are being made every second and more and more people are gaining access to one another’s profiles and pages. So what does this mean for you? It means that it’s about time for you to start living your life online. No, that doesn’t mean plopping yourself in front of the computer screen for twenty-four hours. It means that your life in reality should be in accordance with the life that you project onto your social media outlets. It means that the pictures that you post on your Facebook page should reflect the appearance you strive to uphold in a business setting. And it means that your Tweets [on Twitter] should echo the thoughts, ideas and comments that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with your potential boss and co-workers. It’s all about being professional…in the workplace, and online.

Let’s say you get a job at a prominent ad agency in your area. You dress in a sharp outfit in the mornings, and throughout the day you make pleasantries with your co-workers and clients. Now this is the person that everyone at the agency will identify you as...poised, polished and professional.

But what if your Facebook page tells a different story? What if your status updates and pictures depict you as something less flattering? Perhaps you chose to post pictures of an impromptu table-dance after one too many shots of tequila the night before. The next morning you learn that you have a meeting with “Mothers Against Table Dancing”. Now you have an image issue on your hands. And talking your way out of it doesn’t always work.

The thing is, photos don’t lie. You can’t use the reality TV excuse that you were “edited to look a certain way”. It’s all there right in front of you in full color. – wild table dancing and all. It may be a harsh reality to contend with in this age of exposure, but it is a reality nonetheless.

The point is not to leave your true self behind in favor of becoming something that’s not “you”, but to be conscious of what you choose to share with the world when the world is watching. Think about it, anyone can see those pictures or comments and refer them to a higher power (i.e. bosses, deans, authorities) if it reflects poorly on them. Because you ARE a reflection of your co-workers and employers – again, a reality we must contend with when we invite people into our personal lives online.

One of the most valuable qualities that employers look for in an employee is consistency.
If you are someone that constantly brandishes an image of responsibility, then employers are forced to see that in you. If you are consistent in your personal life, it leads people to believe that your work ethic should be no different. The bottom line: Be who you say you are. Don’t waiver. And build your reputation based on that image. Because in the end, isn’t that all you’ve got? Just be sure to leave the table dancing where it belongs, unless of course you are striving to be a professional table dancer.


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Jaci Russo is a co-founder and senior partner of The Russo Group, a national branding agency located in Lafayette, LA. She is a brand strategist with experience including strategic planning, consumer insight, brand management, national product launches, and media management for clients in a cross section of industries. She speaks to organizations across the country on the power of branding, changing the conversation, message training, and how to brand through social media.

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