4 January 2008

Blogging, Social Networking and Work: Do they mix?

We live in a day and age when we can go on the Internet and open a profile on a social networking site or create a blog or even post a comment on a site that puts our name and, if we choose, our photo out there. There is no cost and it is relatively easy to do, but is it always in our best interests to do so and can it have a negative impact on our career?

What some people are writing

On an interactive forum for administrative assistants someone wrote that they had posted a comment on another site (including posting their photo) and had made a negative comment about their boss. The person felt bad about it and was worried that this was going to affect their employment. They had a valid concern.

On another social site someone named the company that they worked for and had written very specific information about some internal things that were going on in their organization.

Can what you write in a public forum get you fired?

If you do a quick search on the Internet and type in “Blogging can get you fired”, you will get many hits with articles about cases where people had blogged about their employer and it had caused them problems at work and in some cases got them fired. There is even an article about children who had written negative posts about their parents on social networking sites that had affected their parent’s employment.[1]

If you are a blogger or are on social networking sites it would be worth it to check these articles out. You need to be very careful what you write in a public forum as anybody, including your employer, can and does read them.

Some common sense rules to blogging and social networking:

If you are on a public forum you should never write about specific incidents at work, but be very general in what you write.

Never name anyone from work on a blog or on a social networking site without their express written permission and, even if you do have their permission, carefully consider whether it is in everyone’s best interest to post it.

Unless you are a contributor to a corporate blog, it is probably a good idea not to name your employer on your blog or social networking site.

Never plagiarize someone else’s writing and if you quote them give proper acknowledgement and citations, including getting permission to quote them.

Not everything that is written on the Internet is true! Before quoting something you have seen on the Internet, check out the source to make sure it is a reliable site. You can avoid embarrassment and lack of credibility by verifying your information, especially if you are using your blog to showcase your skills and expertise.

Never write when you are angry, including posting comments on other people’s blogs and interactive forums as it can come back to haunt you.

It is a good idea to put a disclaimer on your blog that the opinions expressed are those of the author only. There are other things that you will need to consider writing in your disclaimer to protect yourself and if you simply do an Internet search and type in “writing a blog disclaimer” you will get lots of useful information to help you.

Consider turning the 'moderate comments' on in your blog. You don't want to get in hot water by what someone else writes as a comment on your blog. Moderate them and then press 'delete' if the comments are not appropriate.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Not so with the Internet. Think before you post about your personal life! Be aware that if you have taken a sick day off and then blog about the fun time you had at the party you went to that day, keep in mind that your blogging audience can be anybody who happens to click on your site, including your boss or co-workers.

Can blogging be good for your career?

Social networking can be fun and used properly can be a great tool to market yourself. It is not all bad news, but you need to be careful.

Using a Blog as a Marketing Tool

It seems everybody is doing it! Have you noticed when you go on a corporate website that many times there is also a link to their blog. Corporations are setting up blogs as a link to their websites as it can showcase their company on a more human level and depending on the content of the blog can make their website a very popular place to be: Which is good for business.

Some popular corporate blogs are Kodak’s One Thousand Nerds[2] and Delta Airlines’ Under the Wing,[3] and news websites almost always have blog links with a variety of blogs by their newscasters.

Politicians are also blogging, especially in this election year in the States and even the government is getting in on the action with different government departments blogging. For example, in the United States the Department of Homeland Security have sponsored a blog called the Leadership Journal[4] and in Canada the Office of the Privacy Commissioner[5] have a blog spot, and there are many others.

What about us? Can setting up a blog site to market our skills be viewed as a positive marketing tool by a potential employer?

Blogging can create many opportunities to advance your career! Employers do check the Internet when they are interviewing potential candidates, therefore, having a well-written blog with knowledge sharing about your specific area of expertise can showcase your skills. An employer can get a good idea of your style and personality by the things you have written.

In order to write articles on your blog you will need to do research on many subjects in your field and as a result you will become more expert at what you do. It will test your knowledge and skills in order to write and will sometimes change the way you do things to be more effective in your job.

You will be amazed when you notice the number of visitors you have had on your blog, even visitors from different parts of the world. People are watching and reading.

Enjoy the social side of the Internet, but be careful and don’t get so comfortable that you let your guard down. Educate yourself on what you can and cannot do and Blog smart!

[1] Today's TMJ4, Milwaukee, Diamant, Aaron, Parent Trap, http://www.todaystmj4.com/features/onyourside/10723141.html, (accessed December 26, 2007
[2] One Thousand Nerds, Kodak blog, http://1000nerds.kodak.com/ (accessed December 26, 2007)
[3] Under the Wing, Delta Air Lines blog, http://blog.delta.com/ (accessed December 26, 2007
[4] Leadership Journal, Department of Homeland Security’s sponsored blog, http://www.dhs.gov/journal/leadership/ (accessed January 1, 2008)
[5] Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s blog, http://blog.privcom.gc.ca/, (accessed January 1, 2008)

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