You’re reading this post online, so chances are that you’ve found Horkey HandBook through a post on social media or after doing a quick Google search.
So you should probably know by now that what you put on the internet stays on the internet.
And you can bet that potential clients will poke around your online profiles to see what kind of updates you post. What will they find though?
In this guest post, Maureen shares the things you should and shouldn’t do to protect your reputation online.
Take it away, Maureen!
With the opportunities in freelance careers growing by leaps and bounds, many people are diving into this wonderful new world of selling their services online. Hidden behind the protection of their computer screen, many new freelancer writers may not take the time to consider that all of their social media information is available in cyberspace—and could potentially sour a client considering them for work.
Whether you make your living online as a writer or virtual assistant, or you work in an office, or are just starting a new job search, most likely, someone is looking at your social media accounts. And we’ve all heard of cases when someone has unintentionally destroyed their chances of landing their next job or contract due to careless comments online, or a lack of basic manners.
You want people to remember you online, but not by leaving a bad taste in their mouth.
Another thing to keep in mind is that getting the “gig” doesn’t mean you’ll keep the “gig” if your client stumbles across that heated online rant you forgot about. It’s not just first impressions that count. Cyberspace lasts forever. Just what are they going to find?
Here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) do to maintain a squeaky clean online persona:
1. Do a quick inspection of what comes up online.
Google your name. Go ahead; we can wait.
You might be surprised by what you discover. Those skeletons you stuffed in your closet from your last job? They’re hanging out your dirty laundry from two years ago for everyone to see.
Those pictures you posted after that wild weekend? Your client just stumbled across them and realized why you missed your deadline.
Even when you work from your kitchen table and in your pajamas, you should remember that you’re a professional. And you should definitely act like one.
If you’ve found something that’s even remotely questionable after you’ve googled your name, figure out a way to delete it.
It might be something that you’ve posted years ago on a forum. If you still have that account, maybe log in one more time and delete the comment. If you don’t, is there anyone you can contact that can remove or delete those words you wrote in haste?
2. Avoid letting these social media personas take charge of your online presence.
The temptation to use social media as your personal therapist is irresistible to many. Facebook and Twitter provide a willing ear when no one else will listen. Unfortunately, you might not be considering just who is listening.
It’s great that you want to interact with your readers/clients, but first be sure you aren’t falling into one of these unsavory cyber personalities.
The Debbie Downer
Everybody has a bad day every now and then. But that doesn’t mean that they constantly want to hear about yours. A little positivity and can-do attitude goes a long way to show a potential client that’s how you’ll treat their business too. Think about it: would you want to work with someone who is always complaining?
Does your new client want to hear about all the ‘clients that got away’ and wonder why? Don’t raise the question of your credibility.
The Sherry Shares-a-lot
Your client (and everyone else) knows exactly what you are doing at every moment of the day because you post every ten minutes. Don’t blow up their feed with pictures of every meal you’ve eaten or your next post might be your last meal with your client.
You’ve posted so many selfies that your client can make a collage. The one of you making the “duck face” looks nothing like the professional image your client has seen on LinkedIn. We’re not saying you should be all serious. But oversharing has consequences, so you should carefully consider the pros and the cons before you post something.
The Betty Braggart
Most freelancers and entrepreneurs rely on social media to network and build new connections. Taking the time to congratulate someone on their success, or to cheer them on, goes much further than constantly hammering them with your own accomplishments. Too much tooting of your own horn might just give your client a headache.
No one is perfect, so don’t pretend to be. Share the ups with the downs in a genuine way if you want to be taken seriously, and don’t just throw around accomplishments as just another part of your sales pitch.
Before you post, tweet, or share anything, reflect for a few seconds on how your readers might interpret it – will it be perceived as just another post in which you’re bragging about your exotic vacation or that amazing meal you’ve had?
Wouldn’t it be better to post something that brings value to your readers?
3. If in doubt, wait it out.
It takes a large amount of time and effort to win new clients and build a reader base. Do you really want to offend or irritate a client and potentially lose them over something trivial?
Think of all of those baby steps you took to get you where you are now. Don’t forgot just how hard you worked to get where you are today.
But if the mere thought of giving up your cyber outlet to let it all hang out gives you hives, consider these questions before you post:
- Is your business listed in your social media profile?
- Are you using your full/real name?
- Who are your friends on your social media sites? And do you want all of them to see this?
- Can this comment or post be misconstrued?
- Can this post wait—
- Until morning?
- Until you’re not angry?
- Until you’re sober?
If in doubt, wait it out. You can always post it later. Very few people verbalize regrets about thinking something through.
If you really have a bone to pick with someone, your best bet is to take it to the streets, or at least off the public feed. Don’t get into an argument online, especially not when you might allow the heat of the moment to cloud your thoughts. Sure, you can fall back on the old freedom of speech argument, but in the end you might just be talking to yourself and have one less client to work for.
A little extra effort goes a long way in a world where many have let manners fall to the wayside.
Do you have a social media pet peeve that makes you immediately unfriend/unfollow that you’d like to share? Can you think of a time when you later regretted sharing something online?
Maureen is a Freelance Writing Consultant in mental health & wellness, healthy aging & careers. She also published in paranormal romance and fantasy genres. Find out more about her novels on her website. You can find her hanging out on Facebook and Twitter.