You may have heard the Las Vegas convention bureau promotion: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." The same is very much true of the Internet: "What gets posted on the Internet, stays on the Internet, forever!" As a result of caching by Google and other parts of the Internet infrastructure, retweeting, copying of posts, sharing of posts, and the like, something you put on the Internet today could well still be there—and haunt you—for the rest of your life. It has become standard practice for companies to do an Internet search of people before extending job offers, and inappropriate posts can certainly harm your chances of getting the job you want. Keep this in mind whenever you are tempted to post something risqué or socially insensitive.
So, how do you use social media wisely other than simply being careful about what you post? One suggestion is to separate personal social media and business social media accounts. Consider setting up an account or two for personal use and allow only close friends and family to connect with you there. Don't accept business connections into this circle. You can then share more personal information with friends and family without a substantial risk that they will be seen by your business contacts.
Also set up one or more additional accounts for business use where you can connect with colleagues and business contacts. Keep your posts to these accounts very professional, always seeking to present a positive image of yourself. Avoid controversial subjects that may offend some portion of your network of contacts, and never criticize your employer, your colleagues, or others with whom you have—or may in the future have—a business connection. Through these accounts, share helpful information that demonstrates your knowledge of the field in which you work to make a positive impression on people.
One final word of caution about social media: read, understand, and abide by your employer's social media policy. Social media posts can impact a company's reputation and brand, and as a result, many companies have developed policies intended to guide employees with respect to the business use of social media. Needless to say, disregarding such guidelines can be very detrimental to your career.
In summary, smart use of social media can play a beneficial role in your career, whereas careless posts can be very detrimental. By separating business and personal accounts, you can place yourself in a relatively good position to achieve both personal and career goals.
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