Protect Your Personal Professional Brand

Students need to be aware that future recruiters would leverage social media to learn more about them, and that they should immediately ensure their Facebook accounts were set to private. After all, did they really want their job application rejected because the recruiter was able to see that they behaved inappropriately on Spring Break?

LinkedIn LogosIn early January, I was invited by my alma mater to speak to a group of students and their alumni mentors about building a personal brand. In the presentation, I spoke specifically about how students needed to be aware that future recruiters would leverage social media to learn more about them, and that they should immediately ensure their Facebook accounts were set to private. After all, did they really want their job application rejected because the recruiter was able to see that they behaved inappropriately on Spring Break?

One of the other major social media sites I discussed was LinkedIn – and why they should care about how their professional brand is conveyed to colleagues, employers and future employers. But it seems that lesson is lost on many professionals, as demonstrated by recent commentary on LinkedIn’s news feed with regards to posts by Candice Galek, CEO and founder of Bikini Luxe.

To give Ms. Galek credit, her posts leverage LinkedIn’s social media tools for promoting one’s business or service. In a collection of updates/articles, Ms. Galek posts a somewhat risqué image of a model in a bikini and asks readers the question “Is This Appropriate for LinkedIn?”

Not surprisingly, the original post scored more than 500 comments, both pro and con. But what disturbed me the most was how inappropriate many of the comments were – and NOT from an anonymous user name.

Since LinkedIn requires you to be logged in to comment, any post you make clearly designates who you are, your title and the company that you represent.

I could not believe how immature and unprofessional many of the comments were – and how it altered my view of those who made them.

After reading about two dozen of the more disgusting comments, I sadly realized that our society has not really evolved one iota. But more importantly, those who posted lewd and sexist commentary have forever tarnished their professional brand images. And that’s not just my opinion.

As Ms. Galek herself reported, one senior vice president of business development sent her a LinkedIn mail advising her that one of his prospects had taken note of his bikini post commentary and advised him that he was no longer going to pursue their biz dev conversation.

Since Bikini Luxe is a legitimate business, they have every right to use the media channels at their disposal to further their communications objectives. And, as surprising as it was to see a scantily clad model in my LinkedIn newsfeed, Ms. Galek is entitled to use business-appropriate content to engage prospects (she is, after all, in the swimwear business).

But I might suggest that business professionals think twice before being lured into making a comment (even if you’re thinking it, do you really want your superiors, peers, employees, clients and future employers to know your thoughts?). Or should I just chalk it up to “boys will be boys?”

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

4 thoughts on “Protect Your Personal Professional Brand”

  1. Great points Carolyn! And an excellent read and expansion is in the book ‘Not Taught’ by Jim Keenan. It’s an eye opening view of competing in the Information Age. Posting without thinking seems to be the new norm. Your cautionary warning should be heeded by all professionals. It follows the old (and edited by me) saying “a thousand accolades are erased by a single ‘oops!’. “

    1. Thanks for the book suggestion, Mark. Luckily there’s no book/site (yet!) that “outs” all those “professionals” who make sexist, lewd and inappropriate remarks on various posts. In a year where the Donald has whipped people into a frenzy, it might be a good year to start that site… just sayin’…

  2. Carolyn, thank you for writing this article, it was shocking to see how many people left negative and lewd comments. The irony of it is that LI is primarily a place to showcase yourself and post about your skills in order to get a job.

    1. You’re welcome! And while I agree that LI is a place to showcase your personal brand and post about your skills, I would disagree that it’s primary purpose is to be a tool that will help you get a job… but it’s certainly one of the ways you can leverage LI.

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