I pulled this post from the archives because i've been receiving a lot of questions about professional social media.
I’ve written a lot about the upsides of using social media in a professional capacity. I am actually surprised by how few professionals are actually leveraging social media in a professional capacity, given the clear benefits: enhanced professional networking, ability to establish yourself as a thought leader, and a forum for communicating your ideas, to name a few.
Perhaps some professionals avoid social media because, despite the benefits, social media can be a delicate dance, especially for professionals with access to sensitive information.
I work with a lot of executives and cleared professionals (professionals holding security clearances). I find that many of these clients are very leery of leveraging social media. It’s not that they are concerned about accidently communicating classified or sensitive data, they worry that simply participating in public forums can put their careers at risk. They are smart to worry, but cleared professionals do not have to be luddites.
My advice to these clients is the same as my advice to all clients. Social media is a powerful tool and reality of the modern professional landscape. Use it, but be extremely strategic. Here are a few quick tips:
Don’t over share – Sounds simple, but it can be challenging when you are trying to communicate professional accomplishments without disclosing – or even allowing for the perception of disclosing – sensitive information. Avoid sharing data like firm metrics and client names. Generalize and, if in doubt, leave it out.
Don’t disparage – Your probably thinking that this is common sense, but you probably are not considering that some achievements can be disparaging. For example, If I am communicating that I turned around a failing department or resolved a system security gap, I may be unintentionally communicating a major organizational failing.
Don’t over connect – Social media is a haven for corporate spies. I know that sounds like a John le Carré novel, but it is a fact. In an environment where any little bit of corporate data can provide a competitive edge, there is a lot of money to be made in industrial espionage. Be very mindful of who you are connecting and engaging with.
Social media provides professionals with access and a platform that was almost unimaginable just a few years ago. But, as with many tools, the risks are real. Don’t eschew the tool because of the risks – you wouldn't stop using knives because you could cut yourself – just use the tool mindfully.