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In past columns I have told you t o be careful what you say on the Internet, as the whole world is watching. Blog posts, newsgroup comments, Facebook friends and photos of you become a permanent record of your life online. That said, if the whole world is watching, maybe you should be getting some benefits from this attention. Google and other search engines shouldn’t frighten you into saying nothing on the net. Rather, they should drive you to say something enlightening, interesting and worthwhile.
As I said last week, 2 major parts of any career are teaching and sharing and what better place to do this than online. All of my blogs and most of the content on my web site grew out of this concept. I was looking for a way to share the neat information I find in my work and travels, and the Internet provided the perfect location. I would highly encourage you to do the same thing for several important reasons.
First, sharing your knowledge and thoughts online establishes an online, always updated, resume of your work and life experience. Even better, it is a resume that doesn’t require any special updating on its own. It simply grows as you share information. As you tell people about your experiences in your work — running a new project, creating new artwork, designing a new building – You create an online story that anyone can find using the myriad of search engines out there. Even better, when someone asks you for more information about your work or examples, you have a ready place to send them.
Second, great content provided by you on the net helps to counterbalance, if not bury any material that might present you in a bad light. One Facebook photo of you looking drunk at a party can be outweighed by a host of good material you provide, just like one bad restaurant review isn’t as damaging when it is surrounded by a host of good reviews. Again, putting your best foot forward can give your online audience a clearer view of who you are.
Third, putting your experience, both professional and personal, online can help others to gain a wider understanding of you as a person. I know that people have discovered aspects of my life they never knew existed, until they read my Twitter stream (http://twitter.com/dewelch) or watched some of the videos I post. (http://douglaswelch.blip.tv). In most cases, I think these discoveries enhanced their opinion of me, but even if they disagree with my viewpoint on something, they at least know where I stand on a particular issue. Who knows what you might find out about your friends and acquaintances, and what they might learn about you, once you start engaging in social media like Twitter, Facebook and more.
For example, if you only know me through Career Opportunities, you might not know that I am not just geeky about computers, but nearly everything I pursue, including wine, coffee, the outdoors, everything. I don’t talk much about these interests here, but they are part of my everyday life. Imagine what (good things) people might learn about you as they casually read your blog, Twitter or Facebook account.
Don’t fear the online world. Be aware of what information is available about you on the Internet and then seek to expand and clarify on this information. Sure, you want to watch what you say, but there are great advantages to sharing your life online. You never know who might be listening…and that is a good thing. You never know who might be the source of the next big step in your career or your life.
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