Who’s Spying on You Online?

With online networking websites continuing to grow at rapid speeds, doesn’t it sometimes seem that you have more friends/connections online than you know in real life? There’s that coworker you met very briefly at the companywide meeting. Another random person you met at the baseball game who has a LinkedIn account and works in your industry. Your sister’s best friend, her boyfriend, and his cousin. That guy who used to sit alone in your American History class in high school. This list goes on and on. Your online network could grow to hundreds of thousands of people, but would this allow for effective networking and relationship building?

Building a large network of connections is a good thing, and yes, that’s the purpose of most social media tools. But, it’s important to remember to be conscious of what information you do and do not post on your profile when using social media sites. Some sites, such as Facebook, are more heavily focused on socializing and staying connected to your friends. But did you know that many employers are hopping on the social media bandwagon too?

You never know who will see what you post online. It always seems there is someone who knows someone who knows you.To help you with your social media, here are a few basic rules to follow.

Learn about privacy settings. The first rule for using any social media site is to know what the privacy settings are. You might want to set your profile so that it can only be viewed by your friends. This way, once you have approved someone to be a friend, only then can they have access to your information and pictures. If they’re not a friend, they can’t access any information from you. This gives you some control over who sees your profile and who doesn’t.

After-hour pictures. Yes, everyone has a personal life outside of work, and what you do in your free time is your choice. But, realize that if you post party pictures, a co-worker or someone who interviewed you for a job might be able to see those photos. Another thing to keep in mind is that your friends can post things on your profile. On some sites like Facebook, friends can tag photos of you, so just make sure to do check-ups on your site to see what others might have posted about you.  Remember that your networking profiles are a reflection of you, so use your best judgment when it comes to the featured content.

Spell check. Even if you are not a journalist or in a communication-related field, make sure you don’t have a lot of misspelled words on your profiles. Typos and misspellings could communicate a careless attitude or sloppiness – two things you don’t want to convey in the professional world.

Social media can be a great tool for staying connected, learning new industry tips, and showing that you are up-to-speed on current trends. In the digital age, personal and professional can overlap. So, use these tips to make sure you maintain a balanced online image. It’s always a good idea to put your best foot forward by always being professional, even in your personal life. To learn more, view our guide on social media for business leaders.

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