It is easy to say something negative when you are frustrated or angry. As in, when you are emotionally tense, you can say negative things not minding whose ox is gored, especially with the advent of smartphone, where you can get what is bugging you off your chest anywhere, anytime, at any place.
However, you need to be very careful of what you post online, as it can make or mar your career. The reason is this: Everything you post, share, comment on, and promote online can easily be made available to the public. How? People can easily take a screenshot of your social media posts or images, and they can share a post if you are friends or are connected to you online. While you might believe you are sharing your contend only with close friends, remember that if you type it into an electronic devise, you have made it accessible to others.
I have heard from different people with the understanding that they can locked down their online privacy settings to restrict certain persons from viewing their online activities. Well, while the effort is admirable, it is not fail proof! Be assured, online social media sites are constantly upgrading and updating their privacy settings, sometimes making it easier for your contacts or “friends of friends” on social media to access your information and share with their networks without taken permission from you.
Take a look at social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, they always enhance their search features in order to promote trending topics and issues. What that simply means is that your content has become more searchable by a greater number of people in and out of your network, enhancing the opportunity for something you thought was long gone to suddenly resurface.
Over the years, statistics have revealed that more and more employers are verifying and evaluating their current employees based on their social media profiles. Whether they are assessing your growth potential in the company, or your viability to stay in your current job, your manager or supervisor may be watching what you post online. For instance, if you claim to be the nurturing type and your employer sees you attacking contacts online, they might question your leadership abilities.
Few months ago, I was with a group of friends. While we were having a nice time, one of them shared touching stories of how two of his colleagues lost their jobs.
According to him, each of the colleague had been with the multinational company for close to ten years. Each of them earned not less than half a million naira as basic salary with some mouth watering benefits. My friend’s colleagues’ appointments were terminated because of negative things they wrote about their employees online. Unknowingly to my friend’s colleagues, their company took note of their negative comments online. What is sad about these story is that these guys who lost their jobs were oblivious about what they posted online. To them, they thought it is only their friends that could see activities online.
It should be noted that, anything you put online has become free food for the public to feast on once you click the send button. Take it or leave it, you cannot get your message back, even if you later delete it.
The thing is, as you login online, Google and other search engines for instance are indexing your social networking feeds in real time. All anyone needs to do to know what you are doing online is set up a simple Google alert and your comments will be conveniently delivered directly to their inbox.
More so, your clients (customers), investors, competitors, vendors, recruiters, hiring managers, or anyone you want to have a transaction with will most likely research you online to have a bird-view of your credibility. If they find find negative or positive comments you have written about other people, organizations, your company or them, these comments will surely affect their view of you as a business person and influence their desire to work with you. They will probably think, “If this guy can write these negative comments about others, will he not do the same to us should he have to part ways with us in the future?”
By the way, understanding the implication of what my activities can have on my career, I have not experienced regret over a message or post when I send in ‘haste’.
For instance, many of my job opportunities (including international speaking gigs) came from my friends social media who are convince of my competence and credibility. Some deals that had been successfully closed came through referrals social media. Believe me, I have not meet many of my clients face-to-face, but, I have closed deals worth hundreds of thousands, and in recent times, millions of naira.
However, it should be noted that, I’m not claiming to be Mr. Perfect, I sometimes goofed. Nevertheless, realizing the fact that my reputation is my selling point, I am always conscious of posting contents that represent my values and beliefs and service in person and online conversations and behaviour. This conscious effort has continue to open unimaginable doors for me.
See, when you are frustrated or angry, I urge you to resist the temptation to make a post or respond to a comment and come back to it at another time when you would have calm down or reflect on the implications of your actions and inactions. I tell you, you will be amazed at how different things look when you pause.
Let me share another story with you to help you appreciate the importance of what your careless activities online can cause you.
Two years ago, a Facebook friend, Mr. Richard Akinnola related an experience on his Facebook page on how his friend, who scuttled the political appointment of someone who insulted him on Facebook.
In his words;
“I was with a political big shot in one State and discussions were on those being shortlisted for political appointments in the State. He saw a list and one name registered in his brain. He went online to confirm that name and discovered it was a guy who once thoroughly insulted him online unprovoked, though they were not Facebook friends. He now told his friend that he should drop that guy’s name, that he was unfit for a political appointment. Well, if l were in his shoes, l probably would have behaved differently but we are not the same. The way some people take online insults with equanimity, is different from the way some others may take them personal. So, the lesson in that encounter as relayed by my friend, is that we should be mindful of how we relate online with total strangers. Who knows who would be of assistance to you tomorrow. Put your emotion in check”.
As social media permeates all aspects of our personal and professional lives, what you post online can have serious and lasting consequences. Hence, before you send that message or make a comment, always check the tone and consider how you would feel if the table were to be turned!
The world is a small place, hence, always be guided when you are online!
Written by Adeogun Joseph Kayode. Kayode is a Certified Content Marketing Strategist, Journalist, Communications and Leadership Coach with over 15 years working experience with individuals and various organizations in Nigeria and across the world. He is also an author of ten books on school leadership, new media, digital marketing, public speaking, freelance writing and entrepreneurship.