I was reading my scriptures when I decided to check my phone (an every 5 minute habit I’m trying to kick. These days, I have to turn my phone off for a moment of peace). As I did so, checked my phone, I saw a post that struck my attention. Colleen, as she always does, posted a link to another great author resource and I could not wait to get the juicy details of why Authors should watch out for this one dangerous trait from literary agents. As I scanned the article, nodding my head and wondering how long it will take my pizza to finish baking and how the beef sausage I sliced on top is going to be the bomb, I was struck by the following statement:
“In and beyond the writing and publishing industry, the way someone uses social media is often a window into that person’s work attitude and style, and a signpost as to how a potential working relationship will evolve.” – Aine Greaney
I stopped thinking of pizza and thought, “Wow, that is so true!”
This got me to thinking about blogs and Facebook and Twitter. I started to think about how we tend to use them all so loosely. I also started to think about businesses or upcoming businesses. As an author, I thought of course of authors and how being a published author is likened to a business in many ways. Furthermore, this got me to thinking more deeply about the social media world in general.
We all like our personal space and the freedom to post what we want on our blogs. For personal blogs, that’s great. Some people are here to write publicly on a personal level. On the other hand, there are those who are blogging to strengthen their writing or to promote their written / published work. For these individuals, its important to keep in mind that your boss is more than likely reading your blog.
The Boss. Who is he? This doesn’t have to be your actual boss but it is someone out there with the potential to take you to that next level. Facebook and Twitter may seem like harmless entities but the fact that professionals are trolling through pages and timelines is no conspiracy theory. For those of us online for fun, have at it. But for those of you seeking to become authors or to use your blogs for anything slightly professional, you may want to consider that the blog posts that go viral are usually the ones we least expect to do so. Personality is key of course. It is always good to let your personality shine through and to let us all know that you’re a real breathing person with passions and concerns and joys just like the rest of us. That personal touch brings people together and builds a bridge of commonality that helps us to get to know one another better, which in turn works well with building professional relationships.
And now we’ve come all the way back around. How you present yourself online should be a representation of who you are, but it should the best part of who you are. Cursing people out on Facebook and engaging in arguments and being nasty to people may be fun now but one day you will grow up. And when that happens you’ll want to explore new things and maybe you’ll even want to put some of those talents to good use. The problem is that the past image of you is still saved in social media files and although you have industry knowledge, Mrs. Smith, your future boss, just can’t get over how vulgar your language is. Mrs. Smith can’t see someone fitting into her communications department who can’t control something as close to them as their own tongues.
I’ve actually experienced this myself. A long time friend of mine (who I am not in communication with but who I have known a while) was launching a new business and sought out support. For the sake of identity I’ll just call this person a she. She promoted across all of her social media accounts and the business itself looked really promising and got some good reviews. As for my friend, having known her for about nine years now, I know her to be very intelligent and knowledgeable about that particular field. In fact, I always knew she would be a business person some day. However, as I scrolled through her Twitter timeline, the one with the beautiful website layout and crowdfunding campaign and call to action, the more I scrolled the worse it got. Eventually, I had gone back a couple years and there was everything there from the use of profanity to sexual language. If I was a professional looking to hire someone with her skill set for my company, I would have been instantly turned off. Even as myself I was turned off. It was as if none of the prior things I saw attractive mattered anymore. My advice to my friend is to create a business account specifically for the business itself without linking it to her private account. Sadly, I’m not sure if that will even work this far in the game. The lesson is a brutal one.
In the end, we all enjoy what we do and I don’t want to leave without stating this fact. Whenever I talk professionalism I get feedback that suggest that in the end blogging should be fun. Of course it should be, but I wouldn’t take it lightly. Nothing on the internet can be. Employers and agents search social media accounts, such as blogs and Facebook, because social media is the largest data collection service to date for collecting and gathering intelligence and people tend to be themselves on these platforms more than they actually are in person. Social Media therefore becomes a valuable platform for employers to seek out potential clients in their natural state.
It’s not about being phony and fake, its about being mindful of your behavior. It’s OK to be yourself on social media. In fact, I would hope that you are yourself. Showcase pictures of your family, display the music you like, or speak about something that is passionate to you. However, keep in mind that thousands of people are potentially reading your blogs everyday and one of them, just one of them, may turn out to be your boss.