Social Media and Your Professional Reputation

November 1, 2011

By Kathryn

Social media is part of our everyday lives. We check our personal Facebook accounts daily, share through Twitter and LinkedIn, YouTube and TwitPic. There is no limit to how we can socialize now. Yet, the way we communicate via social media creates a permanent record that affects our reputations within our industries.

When you communicate over social media, your thoughts are broadcast to millions of people around the world. Your words reflect on you and on those with whom you are affiliated -- most importantly, your employer. Thus, the old adage comes to mind: think before you speak (or in this case, before you post). How will your communication be viewed? How will this shape how your colleagues, employers and others within your industry view you?

Now some of you are thinking: “So what? It is my personal account. I have freedom of speech.” That's true. You do. There is no social media police force that will show up on your doorstep if you comment rashly on sensitive topics. However, your posts will follow you and the blogosphere and social media commentary could backfire on you if you post something you would later regret.

How will your negative comments against individuals or firms be viewed within your industry? How will unconstructive comments about current events affect your personal brand? You may post a comment on Twitter while in an emotional state that you later regret or wish you had kept confined to verbal discussions with colleagues.

Social media is fun and engaging. It is a good way to build networks, stay in touch with friends and conduct business. However, think through exactly what you post and how it will reflect on you professionally. Prospective customers and partners may be following you. What you say is permanent.

There are no recalls in social media.

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