Fireside Chats — Online Presence

Many years ago, I ran across this piece of advice from Harvey Mackay, and it’s always been in the back of my mind ever since.

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.

It was written as a book title in 1999, but it’s as timely now — maybe even more so — than it was then.

I’m bringing this up because a friend and colleague, John White, recently wrote a response to a reader of his blogs; the reader wanted to make more an impact at his company than he has been doing. He’s using social media, but merely to show pictures, “talk trash” with his buds, and laugh at jokes.

John wisely told him that recruiters and HR personnel nearly always look at someone’s online presence as part of their “due diligence” to see if a candidate has anything good or bad they need to know before they talk with that person.

The reader sounded like he was in his late 20s, so he really needs to rethink his place in the workplace — NOW.

And it will take some work, if all the experts are right about what we put on social media having a half-life ten times longer than that of uranium. John wisely told him to get going now to use social media to find those who could help him, who could see him as someone they might like to know, and to see him as someone they might like to hire.

I would just add these few items:

1. Start cleaning up your social media accounts NOW. Do you have pictures of being wasted on booze? Driving poorly? Acting like a 12-year-old? Check your friends’ posts, as best you can. Ask them to get rid of what makes you look like a jerk — if any of them do. Have you been tagged in pictures or posts you now see as unhelpful to the future you? You may not be able to get rid of all of them, but start. You need to be seen as a true grownup, not a kid, before the headhunts come looking.

2. Revamp all your social media profiles NOW. What first impression do others get from yours? Have you checked the writing and the spelling to make sure they look professional? Have you listed your accomplishments and/or strengths? Do you have any recommendations? Do you have anyone who would write one about you? (Have you written any for your colleagues?)

3. Become a new YOU on social media. Going forward, post stuff that shows you in your best light. After you’ve cleaned up your own sites, check out others. Find posts you like, and comment on them. Share them. Be seen as someone with a brain, a conscience, a point of view that is admirable.

To all those who haven’t achieved what they want yet: START. Start by “digging your well.” Connect with people. Join conversations. Share others’ posts, with a friendly comment. Follow some writers who might help you one day, and take a long view. This kind of upward change rarely happens overnight, but it happens all the time.

There are many experts out there who would love to help you! What kind of help do you most need? For social media advice, talk with John White. For writing resumes, talk with Lynda Spiegel.

Get going now, before you might need to.

Dig the well.

Plant the seeds. 

Reap the harvest.