In today’s world, it’s almost impossible not to be involved with social media. It has become a huge part of daily communication and a main source for news. It has amplified the importance of building and protecting your reputation. When it comes to your reputation on these platforms, posting the wrong photo, quote, or phrase can easily damage the character and impressions you’ve worked to build. The question to keep in mind before you post something is, “How will this post affect my career?”
One insensitive tweet, a thoughtless Facebook post, an inappropriate Instagram photo, an offhand comment on LinkedIn, can cause some damage. Anything can be misconstrued, taken out of context, or over-hyped. All of your accomplishments, all of your successes, every performance measure you’ve met or blown out of the water, all of that speaks to your professional reputation. Don’t destroy what you’ve been working so hard to build up.
You can spend a career building your reputation as hard-charging and results-driven, only to have it spoiled in an instant. Whether male or female, entry level or tenured, pedigree or junkyard dog, your reputation is all that you’ve got when it comes to your career. Building your career and reputation go hand in hand. It’s your brand. It tells others what they can expect from you. Once you start your career, that career is mobile, so your brand is mobile too. You need to be able to protect it.
The instant you apply for a job, your reputation is on the line. Everything that shows up on Google search and everything public on your social media pages is fair game when it comes to deciding whether you’re a good fit or not. Don’t kid yourself that no one will be able to find that inappropriate picture of you at that party. It’s out there, possibly forever.
Of course, social media isn’t the one and only way when it comes to branding yourself. Everything you say, do, write, present, contribute to, or even wear builds your reputation. In my book, The Inequality Equalizer, I share a story about a young woman at a work conference who didn’t take this into consideration. I saw her from my hotel room, strolling along the beach in a bikini with a few male colleagues. She looked great and wore it well, but I couldn’t help grimace when I thought about what that bikini-clad stroll meant for her reputation. Was she branding herself as a savvy professional who knows how to handle herself at a corporate conference, or just a good-looking babe in a bikini? There is a time and place for everything, and this was not the time or place for that kind of attire, even if we were near the beach. I did mention this to her later that day, and she did not take it well. I asked if she saw anyone from the executive team, male or female, meandering around the beach or pool in their swimsuits. She could only answer, “no.”
It’s crucial to understand how others perceive you. The truth is, what other people think of you absolutely does matter when it comes to your career. Junkyard dog or pedigree, it’s vital to think about how you want to be viewed now and in the future. If you want to level the playing field, it’s crucial to build a career that’s separate from everyone else. Be known for the right stuff.