Being Professional Online

Tweets, Snaps, Facebook posts and LinkedIn connections — whether you “like” them or not, social media platforms have become an integral part of showing the world both your personal and professional image. Wise social media users will realize that even the boundaries between these “personal” and “professional” identities have begun to blur.

According to Robert Walters in his article, “Maintaining a Professional Image Online,” social media began as a way for friends to connect with one another, but many employers now use social media to judge potential candidates for job openings. This means that social media users must post with both friends and future employers in mind.

These changes to social media may seem restricting or difficult to navigate. However, in the book What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube, Erik Qualman is quick to point out that these changes bring both challenges and opportunities. With the right mindset, social media can become a tool that opens doors and creates connections in both friendships and careers.

Creating Your Digital Image

Establishing a single identity rather than switching between offline to online or professional to personal can come with many benefits. Professional posts will be seen as more authentic and engaging when they are geared towards your friends as well as your colleagues. Personal posts will be more thoughtfully and tastefully crafted when they’re designed with both your boss and your family members in mind.

When deciding whether to post online, Qualman advises to ask whether the post is a true representation of yourself. He adds that anything you would whisper offline should not be posted online. Ask yourself what type of reputation you want to create, and choose your posts with that reputation in mind.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

Although social media allows users to post reactions instantly, a little thoughtfulness can go a long way in maintaining your online and offline reputation. In “Why Your Social Media Presence Should Be Professional,” USA Today College reminds users that anything posted online, even if it is deleted, can almost always be found. Don’t let the ghosts of tweets and posts past come back to haunt you.

How to Make Social Media Work for You

In “Managing Your Professional Reputation on Social Media,” William Hanson writes that the question we must answer is how to use social media to “complement our professional relationships, not undermine them.” To achieve this, Qualman recommends to use social media for networking and praising others. Think of social media as a streamlined way to uplift others rather than a faceless way to criticize others.

Despite the challenges, social media can be a great platform to market yourself to those whom you have not yet met in person. It can serve as the bridge that transforms your digital connections into relationships and job opportunities.