Social media has certainly changed, “how we do business” in a big way. Networking, establishing a personal brand, job search strategies, targeting companies and organizations; all have become much easier tasks and on a significantly larger scale. If there is one concern that seems to be the most highly voiced, it is related to the issue of privacy. Suffice to say that the majority of those managing an executive career would relish the idea of separating their professional social media profiles from their personal profiles. The question is:
Should separating your personal and professional online profiles be a concern or a consideration?
Social media has enabled anyone with an interest, the ability to put themselves into the spotlight but unlike other media’s of the past, the control over the flow of information generated today utilizing social media is directly from the user. The options to establish your place in this spotlight, your online presence, are many. It is an easy task to research the professional sites versus the social or personal sites. Clearly, Linkedin is the number one professional networking site with over 150 million users. Other professional social media sites include Naymz, Zoominfo, VisualCV, ExecuNet and the list goes on. Sites such as Monster have rolled out Beknown on the FB platform to secure a significant online presence with networking opportunities and HAPPEN will soon be revamping their website to embrace the advantages of a social media site.
Today, there is no question that Facebook dominates as the number 1 social media site with 845 million users, forecasting 1 billion users by August 2012! This number of users, which is 695 million more than Linkedin must inspire the following question: Is it reasonable for anyone managing a career and working towards establishing a visible online profile to ignore the opportunity to establish a presence on Facebook? Professional Pages and Business Pages on Facebook have influenced millions and are easily established without any cost. Although a personal profile is necessary to establish a professional page, it is not necessary to have any direct link between them.
All social media sites offer privacy settings but when managing an executive career, especially for those in career transition, the risk is in blocking access to decision makers, potential employers and recruiters. Those who have the potential to positively impact your career should also not be left with the impression that you have something to hide. Embrace all that social media has to offer and concentrate on a consistent, authentic and genuine online presence regardless of whether it is a Linkedin profile or a Facebook profile; a career network or a social network! Your online presence should be who you are and a decision to hide a personal profile or to establish a professional profile which varies greatly from a personal one will only serve to damage any credibility. Establish a true personal brand and stand proudly behind it. Obviously those who are dishonest or have been involved in criminal activity will have a more difficult time with the idea of being open and forthright but for many, you can be assured that decision makers are aware that professionals also have personal lives.