It’s an old but true saying that you’re judged by the company you keep and this applies online as much anywhere else in personal and professional life. Last week I was reminded of this three times.
Early in the week I was asked if connecting with someone on LinkedIn was an endorsement. I thought that was an odd question as LinkedIn has a separate function for recommendations and so I didn’t pay it much attention.
A few days later an industry group leader told me she’d assumed an individual was legitimate because I was a member of their LinkedIn group. While it was a compliment to think my opinion meant that much, it worried me as I didn’t really know the group’s founder and I certainly wasn’t endorsing his business.
Finally, at the Media140 Conference in Perth last Thursday, employment branding specialist Jared Woods gave an interesting overview of how an Engineering firm deals with social media issues in the workplace.
Jared described the company’s basic rule was if you state that you work for the organisation then you have to act professionally and in a way that doesn’t discredit yourself or the company. Which means no more drunken photos posted on Facebook or joining bad taste causes and online groups. By all means post silly pictures, but forget mentioning who you work for.
The killer line from Jared was social media gaffes can not only damage a business but they can also damage employee’s professional reputations. Just as the employee is part of the brand, staff have their own personal brands.
This isn’t new, there’s dozens of true stories of how people have lost jobs through inappropriate blog or Facebook postings and ten years ago the infamous Claire Swire incident nearly cost a group of young London lawyers their jobs .
All of these examples show just how important it is take care with everything you do online. You are not anonymous and most things you say and do on the Internet will be stored somewhere.
So play nice and remember not to post anything you wouldn’t like to see next to your name on the six o’clock news.