Please Don’t Be “That Guy”

Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 12:50 pm by bryna
We're laughing at him, not with him. You don't want to be

We're laughing at him, not with him. You don't want to be "that guy" online. #epicfail

It’s really no secret that I’m a political junkie. I just love it. I’ve worked on political campaigns of various stripes–provincially and federally. I’ve worked for a Member of Parliament–one of the most amazing experiences of my life to date. (How many  people can say they had sushi on the Prime Minister’s patio–twice?!)

A lot of people’s eyes glaze over when they hear talk of elections, politics, and Stephen Harper’s sweater vests. I however love these things, and will continue to bore people well into the future with my lively discussion of said passions. It’s part of who I am.

As a result, I’ve been a little more aware than most about what I post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Working for a politician, I’ve always felt that you represent that person when you’re in public–online or off. Especially around election time, when the vultures come out in all camps, you’ve got to stay on top of what you say, who you say it to, and…what people tag you in on Facebook.

Today I found myself reading my morning Commentz, and thinking about “discovering who I am,” as I did yesterday on the blog. This is what I see: Another young candidate caught in compromising Facebook albums. Really? Really?! (Click here for the full story.)

Emmanuel Pleitez says that he doesn’t have anything to hide; that he purposely didn’t untag the pictures, or ask for them to be taken down. He says he’ll go through the pictures with questioning voters, and explain them one by one. Really? Really?!

This is the kind of mistake that costs you an election–and worse, your reputation. I am all for being genuine. That was part of my argument yesterday. No, I don’t think you should pretend to be someone you’re not online or in any area of life. Being real is key to utlizing social media, building relationships, and creating “Brand You.” But in this case, being “real” cost votes, and worse, it cost’s reputation.

Reputation and image are of the utmost importance in politics and business. Last month I had the opportunity to speak to the students in the Art & Design Foundation program at Loyalist College, and this was the same message I gave to them. You might think your online profiles are just for fun, but how would you feel if a potential employer (or voter) Googled you? Would you be proud of what they might find? If the answer is no, then you need to think twice about what you share online.

It’s not about ‘hiding’ anything. In my mind, if you’re doing things you feel you need to hide, then you need to reevaluate your actions–that’s just common sense. The issue is that a tremendous amount of information is being shared, some you can control, some you can’t. It’s time for young professionals to take control of the pieces they can.

Look at your profiles. Question the messages you send about who you are. I don’t want to say, “grow up,” but I will tell you this: You don’t want to be “that guy.”

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{ 4 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. This is really good thinking, and I’m always blown away at the amount of colleges and universities that have yet to embrace coursework in developing, publishing and using human brands. Apparently this is a problem in Canada as well as the U.S.

    Most of the action I see happening in terms of self-branding is starting on the ground floor with the students. For instance, at Ohio State University, @shmuffs (Marie Elizabeth) is a student who’s led the charge on founding a “Social Media Society”. Members meet monthly to learn (from each other and speakers) about new media and how they build out their own brand presences online.

    Today, having an online presence gets you opportunities for jobs – not resumes. And yet, most schools still teach resume building coursework to seniors.

    So, how do we change this? How do we make personal branding a relevant topic to academicians?

    Speaking at colleges is a good start, so cheers to you Bryan for making the effort at Loyalist.

    But what else can we do?

  2. I feel the same way about colleges/universities not making the leap into teaching human branding. However, in terms of the pace at which SM has moved compared to the speed at which academia travels…I think there’s a math equation in there somewhere that proves that one is way behind the other.

    I love that there are students and teachers (like my colleagues, Rob @artdznfndation and Kerry @KerryRamsay) leading the charge. The idea of the “Social Media Society” at Ohio State is fantastic. Hmmm…food for thought. I know a few people who might be interested in the idea.

    I think we make it a relevant topic by talking about it, sharing it, and networking with those who can make a difference on a bureaucratic level within academia. Loyalist College is a prime example of an academic institution that “gets” SM. That doesn’t mean they got it overnight, or couldn’t do more. We all could–especially in terms of equipping students with the skills to use it, and awareness of its impact on their professional lives.

    Then we do it. We walk the talk. You and I, and lots of young pros are using the SM platforms to better the world, do great business, and lead the charge in innovation in our fields. Setting an example is important.

    It’s awesome to be a part of. Stirring up that excitement with our peers will take time, but they’re starting to understand as well. I’d say the number of people who ask me what Twitter is has quadrupled (at least) in the past three months. Awareness is key.

  3. It astounds me the number of people that are losing their jobs and their credibility because they have pictures like this posted on a public website like facebook. Privacy settings or no, I think it is rediculously indicative of a society that values appearance over competancy….which reminds me, I have some serious facebook-housecleaning to do after last night’s naked bar hopping/ illicit drug using…

  4. Pete, I totally agree. Generally, society does value appearance over competency, which is scary. I think we’ve all done it, which is why on today’s post I ask that we stop measuring situations and people by appearances. It’s vital to our personal well-being, and to our professional life.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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