Maintaining a positive online presence

This is a guest blog post by Ali Wruble.

We live in a digital world where seemingly everything is public. Every thought, opinion, location, event, activity, or image can be easily broadcast in seconds through social media. And once it’s out there, it takes on a life of its own.

This fact can be difficult to manage in a service industry such as law. Everything about you contributes to your reputation as a lawyer, both personal and professional. Reputation cannot be compartmentalized. What you do in your personal life can and will be evaluated within your professional life if it is posted online. It is best, although difficult, to keep that in mind when creating social media content.

Everything you post, tag, like, and share makes a statement about who you are as person. Is that statement accurate? Is it saying what you want? Exercise good judgment and caution when creating content of any kind. Harsh language? Content full of careless errors? Mean-spirited comments? Questionable activities? All contribute to a negative impression of you as a person and a professional.

You always represent yourself online, but you will also represent your employer. When you are searching for a job, employers will look online for intel about who you are outside of your resume and polished interview behavior. That is because once you are hired, you represent that employer in all activities. Evidence of bad judgment online will work against you in a professional context so be sure to project an appropriate image.

Some basic tips for maintain a positive online presence:

  • Be aware of what exists about you online that may not have been created by you. Google yourself to see what you find. Check tags on Facebook from friends’ photos and posts. Unflattering or questionable Flickr/Instagram photos featuring you?
  • When posting any commentary online, make sure you want everyone to see it. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, you shouldn’t say it online. Would you want your mother to see that content? An interviewer? Think about it.
  • Use a professional photo for LinkedIn and complete at least the basics of your profile so recruiters, colleagues, and other professional contacts know who you are.
  • Check your privacy settings on all social media (especially anything with photos) to ensure that you only make public what you want everyone to see.
  • Think before you post. Whatever you want to say – are you sure you want it out there associated with your name forever? Are you in the right frame of mind to be creating content? Maybe you should HALT. Never post when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Been drinking? Please don’t post, tweet, or comment!
  • Assume everyone will see everything. Did you just claim a family emergency to get out of something but you actually attended a social event?

At the end of the day, what I tell my ten-year-old daughter works for everyone. You can think whatever you want, but be careful of what you say and how you say it. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

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