The Fishbowl called the Internet
Establishing a presence on the Internet is akin to having your life displayed in a fishbowl. While maintaining a positive presence can be a very good thing, if not handled properly it can be a very bad thing. It all depends on how you craft your Internet image – or brand – whether your presence goes swimmingly well or it sinks you!
The following are among the current media that project you onto the Internet:
- Cell phones & smartphones
- Social media / marketing / networking / job sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, GooglePlus, YouTube – to name a few of the more popular sites.
- Letters to the editor
- Comments posted on articles
- Personal website
- Personal blog
Take a minute to assess whether you know the extent of your comments, photos, emails, tweets, chats, conversations, postings and other footprints that have been deposited across the vast expanse of the Internet. What will be viewed by prospective and current acquaintances and friends, college admittance personnel, recruiters, human resource representatives, hiring managers, bosses, clients, vendors, government agencies and the like?
It’s important to be aware that, while statistics might vary, some sources report that as high as 80% of colleges and more than 50% of all employers are checking Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites to assess and recruit applicants. And, those numbers will most likely increase rather than decrease.
To ensure that you are not eliminated from consideration for admittance to your top-choice college or dream job, it is vital that you pay attention to your Internet presence.
And, let’s be clear: whatever you post to the Internet remains indefinitely. Even if you delete something from your Facebook page or personal or business email, you can expect it to remain on a server somewhere that is owned publicly or privately. And, those servers aren’t going anywhere in a hurry; it’s quite likely that they will be around for decades, or longer. They might be deleted from the first, most visible layer of the Internet, but they’re not really gone and could resurface. It’s also important to remember that there could be many copies of such postings, which can float around and resurface anywhere at any time for anyone to view. Therefore, it’s wise to refrain from posting carelessly or thoughtlessly because your reputation, relationships, education and career could suffer as a result.
To begin the process of constructing or improving your online presence, conduct a SWOT analysis of your Internet profile. SWOT is the acronym of a common strategic planning method used to evaluate the following:
What do you do well? What do you love to do? What do your parents, teachers, classmates, friends, acquaintances, siblings, neighbors, relatives, employers, etc., say you do well? On which strengths might they seek your assistance and advice?
What don’t you do well? What do you hate to do? What do your parents, teachers, classmates, friends, acquaintances, etc., suggest you improve? Which weaknesses can you or should you try to improve, and which ones should you simply avoid?
List the possible opportunities that might arise at home, school, camp or work, or in the community, of which you can take advantage in order to demonstrate your expertise and skills.
The obstacles and fears about school, your social life, college, finances, etc., that keep you awake at night. Whether they are real or imagined, they can stand in the way of success. Figure out which ones you can resolve on your own, and those with which you need help.
SWOT ANALYSIS SAMPLE TEMPLATE
Internal Analysis: Strengths / Weaknesses
External Analysis: Opportunities / Treats
Being aware of the image you wish to project and how that image is being handled online is the first step toward creating an Internet Presence that will be an asset — rather than a liability — to your personal and professional lives
Join me next week as we continue to explore and suggest ways in which you can improve your Internet presence.
As always, your comments and questions are welcome!
Until next time,