By Hucky Austin
It used to be that social networking websites were just for teenagers but not so anymore. Leveraging social networks has become essential for promoting your business, ideas, or even for job searching. Basically, these networks offer a person free access to the internet and potentially, access to millions of people. With every new asset comes potential liabilities and social networks are no different, but you can avoid some of the pitfalls by following a few tips.
Many employers do background checks as part of a pre-employment screening process. Every time you post something on the internet you have left a clue for your prospective employer into who you are. Think about it like this, before you post something on your facebook page, ask yourself if you would like to explain whatever you are posting to the person sitting across the desk from you who you have just asked for a job. If you have pictures of you at your best friend’s bachelor’s party, it might be a good idea to remove them before you submit your resume. It doesn’t matter whether or not you put your facebook account on the resume, they will find the information and it will help them form an opinion of you as a potential employee.
It is always a good idea to limit the amount of personal information you post about yourself. Remember, people can use the information you post online to cause problems for your family members and for any high profile clients you may have worked for. The key is to protect your privacy. Do not post phone numbers, addresses, and other personal information on a social networking website, it could and probably will come back to bite you.
A social networking site is a bad place to pontificate on your personal or political views. Limit the amount of opinion based information that goes on your page and do not allow others to post information in your name on your facebook or other social networking site. Although it is okay to have an opinion, your opinion can work against you if it presents sensitive subjects in an unflattering light before a potential employer. Having your name associated with controversial views on religion, politics, gender issues, and race are not the kinds of things you want to explain away during an interview. However, if the materiel is there, you own it.
Once you have established a good clean page for Facebook or Linked In, consider investing in a professional website that you can link from your page. This website should include a professional photograph that presents you in the best possible light. Don’t go Hollywood in your photo; leave the sunglasses and the attitude at home. Your website should list all the services you provide and you should get one that has an email address connected. (Ex firstname.lastname@example.org) An email address that is connected to a professional website tells employers or potential clients that you are serious about what you do. While you will no doubt list some contact information on your website, be as discrete as possible. List a cell phone or business phone number that is dedicated for business use. Don’t make people listed to your favorite country western or hip hop song before they can leave a message. And don’t post information that links back to your residence.
By following these simple tips on leveraging social networks, you can make a significant impact on promoting your business or services.