I was at a meeting recently and during a break out session on social media, we were talking about how much (or little) of the ‘real you’ should be revealed online. Everyone around the table had Facebook profiles, but several people revealed that they actually had two different ones; one that is business-related and the other locked down to close friends only… mainly because they were afraid of the world seeing the ‘real’ person who expressed thoughts and ideas. The second profile was created because these folks didn’t want to worry about professional repercussions.
That being said, if the expectation is that we are supposed to be as authentic and genuine as we are in real life…
Then why are we being told to hold back and play the ‘professional card’… and never post anything that reveals what we REALLY are thinking or saying?
Good question. What do YOU want to do?
There still are an awful lot of other people out there who are ignorant of the fact that their tweets or posts are becoming part of their online digital diary that is forever being recorded. With 4 out of 5 employers using social media to learn more about prospective candidates for jobs, the online version of these people could prove to be not exactly what that company had in mind… based on the expressed opinions of the applicant in cyberspace.
Others, on the other hand, blatantly don’t care about what others might perceive or think about them. Damn the torpedoes, they say. I am who I am, and I won’t apologize for it. They are opinionated as part of their personal brand, and that very reason is what attracts people to them – these people will say it like it is. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a sea of vanilla-like people afraid to ‘rock the boat.’
So why is it that some people can get away with this attitude and seem impervious?
Let’s put it this way: There is really only one rule that really mandates how to handle this: You can’t play both sides of the fence and then try to back off. You have to choose one that you want to reflect your own persona, and then run with it... consistently.
Take Laurie Ruettimann of The Cynical Girl for an example. She’s been a professional human resources manager and is now a speaker, writer, and career industry expert. But she is also unabashedly direct, opinionated, and uses some words that others might cringe at seeing in her blog.
But you know what?
That is unadulterated Laurie.
I’ve never met her, but her honesty, directness, and humor all come together into her personal brand that is engaging and brutally honest. And she asserts herself in a positive way from a position of authority, engagement, and expertise while serving it straight up.
Not everyone can be this open.
So how much do you want your online doppelgänger to reflect the ‘good’ or bad version of the real you?
Where do you think the line should be drawn?
Do you maintain dual online identities… the ‘real’ you or the ‘professional’ you?