Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Your Online Presence: Personal v. Professional

What’s your email address?  I bet it’s something like your name, or your initials and a few numbers, or your name and your business, etc.  What was your email address 10 years ago?  Mine was curlygurl516@aol.com.  Cute, right?  Professional, no.  The way we use the internet has evolved over the past 10 years.  Have you?

I struggle with the idea of the personal and professional in my online identity.  After all, I interact with my friends and family, as well as business and professional colleagues via the world wide web.  So how can I balance the various parts of myself, revealing the right things to the right people, and still maintaining who I am, on this vast network of never ending information?

I think the most important thing to do is learn your privacy settings.  If you don’t want the whole world to see it, you’d better set them on high security.  Photos on Facebook from Friday night are best kept to yourself and the people you were out with (I'm at a bar in the photo above, is it appropriate?).  Then again, there are things you DO want everyone to see, like that award you received, the article you published, or your fabulous resume (but maybe not your address and home phone).  I recommend keeping your Linked In strictly professional so you have a safe platform on which to promote your professional self.

 A word on twitter:  TWEETS SHOW UP IN GOOGLE SEARCH.  Therefore, even though your boss doesn’t follow you on twitter, she/he can find the nasty things you’ve been tweeting about your job on google….whoops.  I prefer twitter as a more professional source where you can really have a personality.  To be honest, if I follow you, and you’re going to whine about your day via tweet, I will un-follow you.  If you mix up your tweets with great industry information and interesting snippets of your personal life, I will look forward to what you have to say.  (You can follow me at @thecastparty, let me know you found me through the blog and I’ll send you some love!)

If you’re one of the millions of bloggers in the US, you’ve probably struggled with the personal/professional balance.  Let’s be honest, if you’re all business, you’re boring, and if you put in too many personal details, we can’t take you seriously, or your life is a book on the net.  I don’t want the world to know about my weird rash  (wait what?), maybe you do, but that’s a decision you have to make as a blogger.  Additionally, while my Grandma and BFF might want to see cute pictures of my cat, most of my business colleagues don’t care.  That’s why I keep it relevant here on the biz blog, and I keep a personal blog for Aunt Sally and my friends from grade school.

Your online presence is really about your audience.  Know who your audience is on each platform, know who has access to what, and reveal accordingly.  Don’t be afraid to adjust either!  If you find you’ve been too stiff, or too loose, mix it up.  So, here’s the part where I ask for your help.  Is The Cast Party too stiff, too loose, what do you want to read more of?  What do you want to read less of?  You’re the audience, let me know what you want!

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