Want to get a great job or strike a wonderful deal? Watch out – your social media activities could ruin everything!
Have you heard about a teenage football (soccer) fan from Belgium who has gone viral on social media? 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere has caught the attention of many with her photos, supporting her home country, Belgium, in the World Cup 2014.
Her good looks have landed her a modelling contract with the infamous cosmetic company L’Oreal. L’Oreal has labeled her as the most beautiful supporter of the World Cup.
The fairytale had continued seamlessly, if she hasn’t published her old photo on her Facebook account: Her photo showing her holding a rifle, sitting near a dead gazelle, and a comment about hunting Americans, related to the USA vs. Belgium World Cup match.
It was meant to be a joke, but unfortunately, not all see her humour as funny. Some see her photo and comment offensive.
After the backlash, she finally deleted her Facebook fan page. L’Oreal hadn’t returned a request for comment.
Pros and cons aside, Axelle’s story is an example of how your social media activities can make or break your career.
You see, even though you mean no harm with your social media updates, you can’t expect everybody to share the same view as yours. What you think as funny might offend others. That’s not unfair; that’s just how the world goes – you will always have both supporters and haters behind your back, whether you like it or not.
So, what lessons we can learn, especially for us who look for THE dream job or THE opportunity to strike lucrative business deals and partnerships?
1. Watch out – your potential employer and biz partner might be checking on your social media activities
When you post on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platforms, your activities are out there to see. If your setting says that your posts are available in public, so they are.
With that being said, be sure that you keep private posts, well, private; this includes your photos, too. You need to check and recheck your privacy settings – before it’s all too late.
You don’t want to ruin the lucrative job or deal just because the foolish things you do years ago.
2. Do a background check – on yourself
Search Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms you are active on for your name. Also do the same thing on search engine like Google and Bing. See what’s coming up.
No, this is not a vanity check (well, maybe a bit!) but it’s crucial that you see what your potential employer want to see.
Finding out your photos having a party with your friends is okay. It’s telling you that you are sociable and have a life. However, you don’t want your drunk photos be seen by your potential employers and business partners.
3. Be mindful with your social media updates, and know what you share.
I learned this the hard way. Not on social media, however.
Several years ago, I once published a business article on bankruptcy, and I happen to use a photo from Flickr of a rail track on a dead end. I thought that it made a good sense to use the photo to illustrate the post, but foolishly I didn’t find out more about the photo. The photo happens to be a rail track in Auschwitz concentration camp. The comments I got was really harsh, I decided to take down the photo and publicly apologise.
You might say, “No, I don’t want to tailor my updates based on what people might see. I am what I am, and I want to post whatever I want.”
Well, it’s all up to you, really. But the reality is, your future employers or partners do check on your activities, and if they don’t like what they see, they will move on. That how it goes.
It’s not really difficult to ‘tailor’ what you publish on your Facebook account/fan page – just tone things down, and I don’t think getting your photo, i.e. showing that you are a drunkard, posted on your fan page for the world to see is a good idea.
Again, check and recheck what you post. And if you found out that some of your posts can potentially offend others, just delete them. Remember, if you want to play it safe, don’t post updates that don’t add value for your audience.
4. Create an online presence showing your experience
It’s always a good idea that not only you publish what you think, you also publish posts that are relevant to your skills and expertise.
For example, if you have design skills, you might want to publish cool design pictures on your Facebook fan page, or tweet design tips on your Twitter account. You might also want to publish your portfolio on Instagram or Pinterest. Answer design questions on Quora. Publish your art on DeviantArt.
The bottom line, you need to create an online presence in such a way that when a future employer (i.e. a design firm) or partner (i.e. a company looking for a designer for a project) search for you, they will see exactly what they want to see.
5. Connect and network with people who add value to your personal, professional and/or business life
Here’s the ground rule for social media: Don’t befriend anyone you meet. Yes, you want as many friends as you want, but always remember that you want to befriend those that can add value to your life, and vice versa.
With that being said, you should connect with like-minded people, businesses in similar/complementary niches, and potential customers/clients.
Don’t create connections because you can spam them with your offers. That’s wrong. Connect with others so that you can collaborate with them; job offers and business deals will eventually come to you in one way or another if you are genuine with your effort.
So, what’s in the future for Axelle? Well, to me, she will continue to catch the attention. She can make it big if she can face the criticisms with an open mind. It wouldn’t be easy, but along the way, new opportunities will come up if she can learn from the whole experience.
She is touted as the next Pamela Anderson, and I see that she has the potential. Just be more careful on social media; it’s not the safest place on earth for your personal and business life, as we know it.
And yes, haters gonna hate; Respect your haters, but don’t let them ruin you.
How about the rest of us? The same advice goes to you and me. Again, we need to add value with our social media activities. Ranting doesn’t help. Offering solutions do.
Do this well, and I do hope that opportunities will come to our way more sooner than later.