Monday, May 18, 2009

Takin' Care of Business: Be Careful Out There

This is the tenth in a ten part series called, Takin’ Care of Business – Making Work Work for You.

The Internet is a whole lot of fun. It’s so easy to meet new friends and share some intimate details of your life on Facebook, MySpace or maybe on your blog: the drunken party you went to July 4th weekend, the Katy Perry-inspired kiss you shared with some random girl at a friend’s bachelorette party, and of course, exactly what you did to get all those beads during Mardi Gras.

It’s all in good fun right. And besides, this is America, and you have the right to do what you want. Sure, you do – but your actions have repercussions. And when those chickens come home to roost, you could end up in some hot water (or chicken broth, if you want to be specific).

Your friends have access to all the intimate details of your life but so do other people. Let’s say, you are looking for a job. You have a good interview. You are feeling positive. But, what you don’t realize is that the interviewer did a simple Google search and saw for himself all those party pictures and some of the sexy comments and stories that went with them. Weeks later, you are wondering why you didn’t get called back.

But, “Karyn,” you say, “I make all of my pages private.” Well, I’ll tell you the same thing that I tell any class I’ve taught on written communication and email etiquette. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. You no longer have control. Just like you can’t reliably retrieve an email (the recall feature in Outlook is not even close to being reliable), you can’t control what people who do have access to your information do with it.

What if a friend or co-worker, with an axe to grind, copied some photos and comments from your profile and circulated them? It happens and it happens more than you think.

Technology from blogging to Twittering to making friends on Facebook has repercussions. It can prevent you from getting a job and it can also cause you to lose your job.

Image isn’t everything; but it still accounts for a heck of a lot. Be very careful with the image you construct because it might come back to haunt you.

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