Online career networks such as LinkedIn and even Facebook and Twitter have been career lifesavers for many professionals, allowing them to showcase their backgrounds, skills and education and how they can help a new employer.
But many professionals have made mistakes online, sometimes to their career’s detriment.
Here are some tips to help you keep your online presence mistake-free:
1) Always remember that these are professional networks. Always present yourself as professionally as possible. Don’t call anyone on the carpet, or an idiot or a fool. Never, ever post a message with a profanity or off-color joke. If you wouldn’t want it said in front of your grandparents, spouse or friends, you certainly wouldn’t want a current, future or even past employer or colleague to read it. So simply keep it out.
2) Don’t tweak or fudge your work and educational history online. It’s very easy for former employers and colleagues to find your online profile and, if they see something they know is untrue or considerably exaggerated, it’s very easy for them to “out” you — in front of the whole world! This could be a real career killer. Just don’t do it!
3) On LinkedIn, if you want to “connect” with a former colleague, you’ll need to ask permission. Do so respectfully — you can’t assume that just because you carpooled to work together for two years five years ago that you can be chummy right off the bat. This goes even more so if you’d like to connect with someone outside of your current network. When you ask someone for connection, explain why — and make sure you have a legitimate, professional reason to do so.
In fact, if there’s someone in your connection’s connections to whom you’d like to be introduced, be sure to ask for permission first. This not only is polite and professional, but your connection may take it upon herself to contact her connection on your behalf, singing your praises. Once you’ve made your introduction to the new connection, be sure to tell your current connection of the results.
4) Keep the whines away. If a connection you approached doesn’t reciprocate, don’t call or e-mail continuously asking why. One additional e-mail or phone call to check to see if the person received your e-mail/phone request is all you should do. Otherwise you come across as needy and immature — not very professional!
5) Look at LinkedIn and other networking sites as virtual networking meetings. When you attend live networking/business events you conduct yourself in a very professional manner, don’t you? Do the same online.
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