Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Social Media's Potential To Create A Bad Ripple For You - Part 2

Believe it or not the scene that I described in part 1 is happening more and more frequently and employers are beginning to take a much closer look at what their employees are doing out there in cyberspace. Now we could easily get into the debate on both sides of the aisle about whether employers have the right or if they are crossing a line they shouldn't into one's personal and unrelated lives but I choose not to. Let's save that debate for another day shall we?

In the case of the example I used in part 1, you had not posted those Twitter comments on your own personal time but did it while you were at work. If you want to split hairs about it you even used company property and company paid for Internet access to Tweet away. Cyberslacking alone is estimated to consume 2.09 hours of the average American's workday and cost companies billions of dollars of lost productivity. You don't think that is getting some strong attention by your boss? Think again. Whether you agree with it or not, the companies we work for have a vested interest in what we do out there on the web - both during work and now more directly what do after hours.

So how do you avoid getting yourself into a pickle and creating a potentially bad Ripple with your friends, family or employer when you use online social media? Keep these three simple but valuable rules in mind.

1. Take the Grandma Test - Before posting anything is that comment, that BLOG post, that picture or that website something you could feel comfortable showing your little 'ol grandma? If not, post not.

2. Evaluate Before You Propogate - What I mean is scrutinize whatever you are about to put out there on the web before you actually do it. Five years from now when you are sitting down for that dream job interview, meeting with the most important client of your life or starting that relationship with a possible soulmate, will what you put out there be something you will be just as proud of then as you are now? The Internet has a memory and like the elephant it has a funny way of not forgetting what you say and what you do.

3. Don't Ever Assume Your Audience Is Just Your Audience - Your quippy Twitter comments get batted around like a pinata at a kids birthday party and are seen by people you don't know. Your drunked exploits which seem funny as a picture on your Myspace profile likely don't seem so funny when your boss sees you wearing the company shirt at the bar. Your bashing of that same boss on your personal BLOG can and will be found - especially by those who wish to do your career harm. Come on we all have someone out there like that lurking - you know we do.

I've taken some chances out there on the web and I have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Fortunately the damage that I've done with a misplaced comment here or risque BLOG post there is something I have been able to recover from. The blow back fortunatley has never been fatal but it certainly could have been. I say why take the chance?

A personal friend of mine recently discovered that an email joke involving race that he had received and thought funny enough to pass on actually landed in the hands of an important client of his. Hmmm wonder why they won't give him the contract back.

Another close business associate of mine ranted about his boss on his personal BLOG that as it turns out isn't so private and personal. He's now looking for a job.

A former employee of mine who pontificated about the recreational use of drugs on a closed personal group found that to come back and bite him in the ass during an interview. The dude is likely smoking a doobie right now sitting in his underwear on his webcam wondering why the man is trying to keep him down!

A friend of a friend found a picture of his wife hanging out at a party with co-workers and an ex-flame on a mutual friend's Myspace page. The party wasn't the issue it was that she was supposed to be at dinner with an important client that night. Tagging and dating a picture hurts.

Social media opens up an incredible world of connection and interaction for us all. Proceed with caution and use your head before jumping in with both feet. The bells you ring today with your actions, words, deeds and pictures are often impossible to unring and can and will reverberate for a long time to come.

Be careful, play smart and use the three rules. They just may save you from creating a very bad and forever damaging Ripple for yourself.

Ripple On!!!

Special favor request!!!

If you found value in these two posts, please pass them on to your friends and family. If you know a young person in high school or college, I encourage you to pass this on to them as well. The up and coming generation of workers need this advice more than you could possibly imagine. Perhaps if they won't listen to you, maybe just maybe they might listen to the Ripple Guy!

Here's a link to Part 1:

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