These days, it is very common to have a presence online.  Whether it is for personal or business reasons, the options and platforms are endless.  The sites that are at your disposal include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious, Foursquare, Digg, Google Buzz, Hi5, LiveJournal, Ning, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and Blogster.  Yes, that is a long list.  But it still isn’t all-inclusive.  However, it is very clear that there are numerous options and ways for you to have your space on the internet.

So let’s say you’re at work one day and your boss asks, “Would you add me as your Facebook friend?”

What would your response be?  Would it be an automatic and enthusiastic “absolutely!” or would your initial response be silence?  Maybe it will be somewhere in between, as the thoughts of how you can restrict your account run through your head.

The fact of the matter is that you can only be so discrete once you voluntarily share information.  If it is out there, someone may very well obtain access to it, despite protective measures.  So with that in mind, what is the information that you’re sharing saying about you?

Here are some questions to ask yourself each time you are about to push the “send,” “publish,”  “share,” or “update” button:

  • Will this add value to my brand or take away from it?
  • Will I be embarrassed if people who hold me in a high regard see this?
  • How will I feel if my kids or grandkids see this in the future?
  • Will someone be able to look at this while their 9-year old child is at the computer with them?
  • Would my past, current or future employer consider this to be something that negatively affects their brand?
  • How would an interviewer perceive me if they read or saw this?
  • Is this too personal?
  • Do others really need to know this information?

There are multiple reasons why you would want to cultivate a presence in the virtual world.  At a time when finding jobs the traditional way is being challenged, the low cost and ease of setting up shop online offers flexibility, the upper-hand in positioning and branding, and the potential that employers will find you.  With that, it is important to remember that perception and first impression will be key.  So be proactive in ensuring that you have a positive and professional presentation at all times.

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