Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dressing for Success in Cyberspace: Giving Yourself a Digital Make-Over

You pride yourself on your professional appearance and demeanor. You strive to create and maintain a strong identity and reputation within your organization, with your clients and peers, and in your industry. But are you as diligent a custodian of your professional brand in cyberspace as you are in the physical world? If not, you probably need a digital make-over…
I continue to be amazed by the number of anemic profiles there are on LinkedIn, how easy it is to access Facebook activity that’s not intended for the public, how many people have no filter and/or no sense of time and place when they post on Twitter, and how uncivil people can be when commenting on news articles and blog posts. Not much surprises me anymore, but the opportunities to wonder “What were they thinking?” seem never-ending…
Given my focus on digital rookies, I’m particularly intrigued by people who are so fastidious about their personal appearance and “real world” reputation but show virtually no regard for their appearance or reputation in cyberspace. They seem oblivious to the fact that they have a digital identity whether they want one or not – and more importantly, that in many respects their digital identity and brand are much more public and powerful than how they’re known and perceived in the physical world.
Lately, to drive home the point of how important it is for professionals to take responsibility for their digital presence, I’ve started using analogies like leaving the house without any pants on; wearing torn, stained, disreputable, or inappropriate clothes; being unkempt; and having a hairstyle, glasses, and other accessories that are out of date. And to address the frequent lament of “I don’t have time,” I highlight the time we make to do things that are important to us, like going to a hair stylist or the gym, or shopping for clothes and shoes. The point is that if we can make the time to take care of our physical appearance and put our best foot forward on earth, we should also be able to make the time to take care of our digital appearance and put our best foot forward in the cloud.
I’d like to extend those analogies by laying out the basic steps and tasks in a digital make-over. Although the recommendations are primarily targeted to rookies, the suggestions should be useful to people who are more digitally sophisticated and engaged as well. We can all benefit from a little closet cleaning… 
For more on the basic steps and tasks visit: Dressing for Success in Cyberspace: Giving Yourself a Digital Make-Over
I’m looking forward to sharing and discussing more guidance during my Career Management in the Digital Era session at the 2012 Forte MBA Women’s Conference in June.
- Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD

Related Resources
Please share other resources on Digital Dos and Don’ts you have found valuable. Thanks!

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