Digital presence has been a hot topic at Darden lately, coming up in several classes- in fact, @CarlosRCamacho and I will be talking to first year MBA students at Darden about building their personal brand next week.
While students are more open to social media as a means to do so, most companies (at least the banks, consultants, consumer products, pharmaceutical firms, etc. that recruit here) still aren’t fully comfortable with student’s social media profiles. While these companies have marketing & PR departments active in this sphere, those are corporate and controlled accounts; companies aren’t comfortable with individual profiles. I think they’re missing a valuable opportunity to honestly learn more about whom they’re hiring, create a positive grassroots network effect, empower employees and applicants and get ahead of the curve.
But that’s easy for me to say, since I want to work for tech start-ups that are more accepting. Regardless, I thought I’d share the 4 basic rules that I always follow- feel free to chime in if you have more/disagree.
- Be consistent with the lines you blur: I’m ok with expressing some personal beliefs that might be seen by colleagues/clients, but I’m consistent. For instance, I’ll mention activities I do with my family, but not items about health, finances, etc. I made a decision as to what social and political beliefs I’ll share- I’ll advocate for LGBT rights on my accounts, but won’t talk about abortion. I’ve simply made a few choices as to what I will share and am staying consistent with that. Decide what you’re comfortable with.
- Built a platform for integration: There are a lot of services out there; I chose what I wanted to use and integrate. I publicly blog and Twitter, and have linked those accounts to both a Google and Linked-In profile, then directed them all to a public email address. That’s on purpose. My Facebook account I keep private; you can’t access photos or posts without being my friend.
- Be controversial, but don’t be rude: I’ll challenge things I don’t agree with and post controversial links, but I always treat conversations online as if I’m having them in person.
- Know what’s out there about yourself: I’m not saying you should hire an SEO firm, but at least know what’s out there. I know what’ll come up if a potential employer Googles me; I know exactly what they’ll see. And I’ve spent some time developing the content that comes up so it shows off the skills and experience I want to emphasize. That’s just common sense.
I understand why firms would rather play it safe and how those preferences affect how MBAs look at Twitter and Blogs. And I’ve heard the execs who come to school and say “be very very careful what you put online.” I agree- be careful.
But you can’t hide your head in the sand- like it or not, you now have an online resume. We all do. And as time goes on, more content will bleed- family, clubs, high schools, colleges, hospitals, etc will all be putting info about you online, and those items will become the frontline of what people see ….unless you take control. Decide what content you want to share- be honest, don’t create false expectations- and then showcase that in a way you control. If I were hiring an MBA I’d like to see they had an understanding and control of this technology, as well as the ability to generate content and sell themselves.