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How to Be Professional on Social Media

Categories: Personal Marketing

In a previous post I mentioned that any communication online has the potential to go viral, so conducting oneself with exemplary etiquette is more important than ever.

Here are some tips for what to do:

  • Connect online, particularly on LinkedIn. Employers search for great hires online, so take advantage of that with a professionally worded, carefully proof-read profile and a professional looking head shot.
  • Check out people’s profiles before connecting with them. It’s okay to ignore a request to connect if it is not a person you would like in your network.
  • Engage in LinkedIn groups pertaining to your industry or areas of interest. Use your experience and unique perspective to add value; or let others know if you found their contribution valuable.
  • On LinkedIn, keep your communications and posts in a professional vein, particularly if you are job-hunting or looking for a promotion.

A couple tips on what NOT to do:

  • If you would not say it in a job interview, don’t say it on LinkedIn either. (Or any other social site.) Many hiring managers reserach candidates online, so what you say on social media may be just as important as what you say in the interview.
  • In sharing your opinions and knowledge, be careful not to come across as arrogant.
  • Don't attack companies or individuals on social media. Your own reputation will suffer.
  • No “twunking!” This relatively new word refers to tweeting drunk. If you wouldn’t drive while impaired, don’t engage on social sites impaired either.
  • Keep private details of your life private. If you wouldn’t want HR or your manager to know, don't post it publicly online?
  • Never complain about your job, your manager, your CEO, or your co-workers online. That can very easily come back and bite you.

Here’s an example of the damage thoughtless social posts can do:
A man won a lawsuit in court, with an $80,000 award for damages. Along with the award, he had to sign a confidentiality agreement. Which he promptly broke, by telling his daughter all about the settlement. Which she promptly posted to Facebook. The result? Because he broke the agreement and the details of the award went public, the court took it away from him.

People want to know whether you are worth connecting with, worth hiring, worth giving more responsibility, worth trusting. When it comes to communicating online, stay professional and remember what my mother always used to say: “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

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