Social media provides many opportunities to communicate with others, but if you make silly mistakes, you can send the wrong message that tanks your next deal, job, or promotion.
Does your social media profile say you are professional, know what you’re doing, or are just the person to work with on a particular matter? Or does it say you don’t pay attention to detail, have no clear idea of what you want to say, and are scattered and all over the place?
Whether you run a writing business or you’re looking to get hired as a staff writer for some company, your online reputation will speak for you. So make sure it has something nice to say. That’s because, in today’s marketplace, a potential client or employer is very likely to at least glance at your online profile. Don’t expect to just hand over a resume or clips file and be hired based on the work you intentionally share with your potential client or employer. This is the case whether you expect to meet the person for a face-to-face interview or you’ll never actually be in the same space because the work can be handled virtually.
You can sink your chances of being hired when you make simple, silly mistakes online. Like these:
Mistake #1: Peppering every Tweet or status update with profanity
It’s not necessary. It may be OK for the occasional swear word to make its way into your Tweets, Facebook updates, or even blog posts, if this is part of your brand or a natural way of speaking. But when every update or Tweet is filled with words you had to wash your mouth out with soap and water after using when you were a kid, you could be damaging your chances of getting hired. That’s because the hiring manager may be so distracted by the language that he can’t focus on what you are saying.
Mistake #2: Getting sloppy in your updates or blog posts
It’s natural for a typo to slip in every now and then. It happens, even to the best or most meticulous. But when you’re constantly making its-it’s errors, misspelling simple words — even your own name, yes, your own name! — and can’t seem to write a straight line of English, you’re not helping your cause. You are showing a potential client or boss that you either don’t know how to communicate or you don’t care about how to do it properly. Either way, it’s not good. Sure, texting has eroded our basic communication and spelling skills, but don’t let it erode yours. Take the time to write an intelligible sentence. And for heaven’s sake, spell your own name right in your posts, updates, and anywhere else.
Mistake #3: Posting inappropriate photos
Have we learned nothing from Brett Favre, Anthony Weiner, and a host of others?
I saw a very risque bachelorette party cake photo on Facebook the other day. The woman who posted it, no doubt thought she was just sharing a fun night with her hundred or thousand closest Facebook friends. Except she wasn’t. She was also sharing that night with any potential professional contact. It’s very tempting to share all the moments of your life via social media, but if you are anyone who ever wants to land a client, gig, or job, then resist the temptation. These images, while seemingly harmless, can actually cause you big problems. Before posting anything to a social network, run it through this quick test: “Will I be embarrassed if a professional connection asked me about this?” If the answer is yes, then post something else. These images and posts live, long after you’ve forgotten about them. And they are there, waiting for that professional contact to stumble upon them, mouth wide open, wondering what kind of person are you to post such.
Mistake #4: Ignoring your profile or bio
Don’t skip over the bio section or header on your social media profile. Take the time to fill it out. Don’t leave the egg photo on Twitter. That makes you look creepy. Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile with only the skimpy bare minimum. In fact, make sure your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles or bios have keywords related to the work you do or are interested in doing. For instance, if you check out my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see the header includes “Author,” “Ghostwriter,” as well as “Book Ghostwriter.” Your profile and bio or background sections on your social networks give you the opportunity to come up in searches when people are looking for your particular skill sets. This is a good way to have potential clients seek you out. Just last week, a man connected with me on LinkedIn. When I accepted his connection request, he messaged me to let me know that even though he is a writer, he connected with me because he would like my help with an upcoming book. If my profile had not included “ghostwriter,” it’s likely he would not have found me on that network.
If you ignore your profile, bio, or header, you’re ignoring opportunity.
Mistake #5: Being scattered
Depending on what you use your social network accounts for, you may need to focus a bit. If you use your profiles for fun and as a way to connect with friends and family, then you are free to post on a range of topics, interests, and pretty much anything that strikes your fancy. But if you use your profiles as branding tools or some means of attracting potential clients, then consider focusing your posts. If you are using your Twitter profile to land business writing clients, for example, then people who follow you because they see that information in your bio may not be interested in tweets about EPL soccer, so you may not want to post too much about EPL soccer to this profile.
It’s possible to have multiple Twitter profiles, so maybe you will decide to have one for business and one for general interests. Of course, this means you must maintain two profiles.
If you decide to have one profile where you post both personal and professional interests, then try to strike a balance. Post a good mix of items related to your topic, but sprinkle in your personal interests.
Managing your online reputation is an important part of putting yourself in the best position to land your next client, job, or promotion.
Learn more tools, tips, and strategies to connect with opportunity and grow in your professional life in my forthcoming book, Connect and Conquer: Grow Your Business, Organization, and Career Through Online and Offline Relationships. Join the mailing list at Connect Beat.