Anthony Weiner, the New York Congressman who was caught sending lewd photos of himself to women online, will probably keep his job. But he’s certainly not having a very good week. “I exchanged inappropriate things with people and I’ve now got to deal with those consequences,” Weiner told Reuters this morning. Those consequences include major political fallout in Congress, where fellow Democrats have been distancing themselves from the onetime rising star.
Thanks to the proliferation of social media, your online reputation is just as important to your overall visibility as your in-office reputation, and you can never get too many reminders to be very careful about it.
Maintain Online Essentials
When a person searches for your name on Google, he should find information that showcases you as a reliable, enthusiastic, and loyal self-starter. And when it comes to establishing an effective online brand, you should at least have the bare minimum – professional-looking Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and an online resume. By professional, I mean to err on the side of caution and not include any content that you wouldn’t want splashed across the pages of the New York Times.
Don’t Run at the Mouth on Twitter
Twitter allows you to publish your thoughts in real time, and you should not abuse this privilege. Before you hit send, self-censor to make sure you’re comfortable with the general public reading your message, because even people who don’t follow you may gain access to your tweets. My favorite example involves a young professional who called into work sick but tweeted from the Cubs game she was attending. Her manager wasn’t following her, but a colleague was, and the hooky-playing behavior got back to her boss in about two seconds. The moral of the story is to please consider what each tweet says about your online brand, and how it might be perceived by managers, partners, and co-workers.
Consider Your Own Website
In addition to strategically managing your presence on social networks, I also recommend purchasing your name as a domain (e.g. Alexandralevit.com) from a service such as Godaddy.com and developing an online portfolio of your work. Regardless of your industry, an attractively designed website that shows off your skills and experiences can go a long way toward convincing others of your worth and potential.