Managing Your Personal Brand Online

manage personal brand - google resultsWhat will potential employers find when they Google your name — and what can you do if you don’t like what they’ll see? How can your own website help you manage your personal brand online? Reader T wonders…

I have a question about personal websites for lawyers and professional women.

Before law school, I had a reasonably lengthy career in an unrelated (and somewhat internet-based) industry. This means that when you Google me, you get a million hits unrelated to law, and can find lots of things I’ve written about pop culture, television, and movies. I’m not embarrassed by that work at all, but I know it can read as non-professional. So when I went to law school, I created a personal website that included both material from my previous career and information about my work as a law student. But now I’m graduating and going to clerk, and I’m worried about projecting professionalism.

Should I take down my personal website altogether? (Does a lawyer really need one?) Continue to include both my legal resume and my pre-legal work product? Scrub the non-legal stuff? Scrub the legal stuff and have it only relate to my previous work? Any advice is appreciated!

This is a really interesting question, and one that I see being more about controlling your past on the Internet and less about the propriety of personal websites (which we’ll get to in a second). Who among us, after all, hasn’t written pages upon pages upon pages of commentary on a show you really liked back when, say, you were a senior in high school and didn’t have anything else to focus on? Just me and VR.5? OK then. (Amazingly it all seems to be gone now, a mere 20 years later — I swear just 5 years ago there were still hits.) But my point is: stuff is out there. And it’s incredibly hard to take down — so hard that I generally don’t recommend trying unless you know the site owner(s) personally.

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Should You Friend Your Boss On Facebook?

friend-your-bossShould you friend your boss on Facebook or other social media sites? What about colleagues? What do you do when your superior sends you a request?  We haven’t talked about Facebook and bosses for a long time, so I thought we’d revisit. While there are still a ton of amusing stories of people getting fired when their boss saw stupid stuff on Facebook (Buzzfeed, HappyPlace), a recentish (2014) study says that adding your boss to your social networks can have advantages (Time).

For my $.02, I agree with most of the experts: privacy controls are HUGE here. I keep a variety of different friend lists anyway — one very small one for my BFFs, a general one for my friends, one for parent-friends (so I don’t annoy my single/childless friends with a bunch of baby questions), and one for Brooklyn friends (so I don’t annoy friends elsewhere if I see a good deal somewhere local).  To be honest, I’d probably keep my boss off all of them but the general one for my friends.  Personally I hate that FB makes them so confusing — so I dug up some recent articles for further reading. [Read more…]

Worlds Colliding: When Networking Groups Want You to Join a Facebook Group

Facebook networking groupCan you keep your Facebook account private from colleagues and professional friends? What is the polite way to respond when asked, as Reader E was, to join a Facebook Group for a committee she’s on?

I recently joined a committee for the local bar that organizes a fun run every year to support a local charity, which I’m excited about doing because I’m a runner myself and I really like what this charity does. Today we got an email about the first meeting, and the woman in charge asked us all to join the facebook group for this committee. I am really uncomfortable with this request. My facebook profile is almost completely locked down from my professional life. I’m not searchable, I’m not friends with any of my coworkers, and I don’t want people I work with reading it. Is her request that we join this facebook group unreasonable? Can I decline? I have a work email set up so people can communicate with me about work related things. I don’t want to use my facebook profile for it!

We haven’t talked about Facebook in a while — we talked about what to do when your boss wants to “friend” you, as well as looked at FB’s privacy settings (a long while ago — here’s a Lifehacker post on privacy settings that promises to be “always up to date”) — so I’m curious to see how much readers think the situation has changed. [Read more…]

OMG, LOL!!! How to Convey Tone In Email Without Seeming Childish

How do you convey tone in email without seeming childish or girlish?  Can you ever use exclamations in emails?  Reader C wonders…

I’m hoping you can address the issue of using !’s in emails at work. As we all know, tone is hard to convey properly via email. However, whenever I am inclined to use an ! to convey a positive tone, I get the sense that it actually reads as childish or immature. I also never seem to notice men using !’s in emails, either…. I’d love to hear yours and others thoughts on this!

Outstanding question, and I can’t wait to hear what readers say.  A lot has been written about overuse of exclamations in emails — with some people even suggesting that one exclamation mark per email is a good rule to follow.  There’s even an app to help you check the tone of your email!  My best general advice is that abbreviations, multiple punctuation marks (!!!), and overly casual phrases (“amazeballs!”) have no place in professional emails.   Beyond that, I think a lot of this depends on why you want to use a positive tone.  For example: [Read more…]

How to Secretly Use LinkedIn to Change Careers

How to Use Linked In Secretly to Change Careers | CorporetteHow do you use LinkedIn to get a new job — without alerting your coworkers or boss that you’ve got one foot out the door? Reader B has a GREAT question:

I am nearly six years into my first job, which is in commercial insurance. I want to transition out of this industry and thought augmenting my LinkedIn profile would be helpful (to show up in search results, connect to new contacts, etc.). HOWEVER, my entire work history and a good proportion of my contacts skew insurance. Since my current co-workers can view my profile (through second and tertiary contacts – I am not directly linked to any of them at present), I don’t want to raise any red flags at my office. Any suggestions?

Excellent question! I’ll be 100% honest here: whenever I get a little LinkedIn activity notification that someone has updated their experience, I wonder whether they’re starting to look around for a new job. I suppose it’s a bit like wearing a suit — if you never, ever wear a suit to the office and then one day, you do, everyone starts to wonder whether you’ve had an interview that day. But if you’re savvy about your LinkedIn usage, though, you can get around that. (Pictured: Secret, originally uploaded to Flickr by val.pearl.)

I think there are two phases to using LinkedIn to change careers. The first phase is the research phase, when you want to discreetly look at other people’s profiles, see what connections you might have, and join a lot of new groups in your target industry to get an idea for the conversations happening within the industry. [Read more…]

How To Use LinkedIn

how-to-use-linked-inWhat is the proper way to use LinkedIn if you’re a junior employee? Has it changed through the past few years?

This came up recently when I linked to a 2008 Corporette post about how to leave an internship — there, I advised interns:

It’s fine to use Facebook or MySpace to connect with the other students you summered with. If you want to, it’s not inappropriate to use LinkedIn to connect, either. However, do not request to become “LinkedIn” with superiors at the company, unless you’d also ask them to recommend you to a future employer — it’s more serious than a casual link, and no one has really had time to assess the other person’s work. Requesting to become linked to an mid-level or senior person you had lunch once or twice with, or wrote a memo for, is really not acceptable.

Do I still agree with this advice? Yes and no. I will say that how I use LinkedIn has changed over the years. In 2008, I remember approving a request from a casual friend I’d known in college. We were never close, I’d never worked with her on a school project, and I hadn’t seen her or talked to her in nearly 10 years. What, I worried, did our connection mean? If she had turned into a poor worker, would that reflect on me? And so from that point on I chose not to approve anyone unless I could vouch for their work.  (Pictured:  Connections, originally uploaded to Flickr by carlaarena.)

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