As I finish my Masters program in HPI, I have been introduced to a module on professional social networking using Web 2.0 tools. It was not too long ago that I did not have any idea what Web 2.0 was. Web 2.0 is inclusive of, but not limited to the following tools:
- Facebook – privately owned social network service launched in 2004.
- LinkedIn – world’s largest professional network with over 100 million members.
- Twitter – social networking and microblogging service that allows you to answer the question “What are you doing?” You can answer by sending short messages called “Tweets”.
- Blogs – is a space on a website that can act as a collaborative space, a breaking-news outlet, a daily pulpit or political soapbox.
As I see it there is a positive side to active participation on these sites. It is a great way to build a professional network and also to reach out to colleagues for information or their experience with certain tools/processes. Many employers have used social networking for recruitment and hiring purposes and to connect professionally and facilitate information sharing.
On the down side, there are privacy risks. Employers have been known to scan the online social networks for information on current or potential employees. The legality of this practice is being debated, but I have heard of many instances where individuals were fired due to what was posted to their social networking site or a friend’s site or Tweeted in error.
A prime example of this happened within the past month. An employee in good standing of Chrysler Corporation’s media agency of record was caught in traffic and was going to be late for a meeting. To blow off steam, he tweeted what he thought was his network of friends the following message: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the Motor City yet no one here knows how to #*%#@*& drive.” Unfortunately the tweet was posted on the company’s official Twitter account. This individual was fired within the hour.
Another area of concern is finding the time to keep up with social networking. Certainly it is not appropriate to post to these networking sites and not keep up with them. What would that say about my professionalism?
Realizing the importance of these tools to my profession, I have decided to embark upon this path keeping in mind the personal responsibility of using these tools. Take the Netiquette quiz to assess your knowledge of network etiquette: http://www.albion.com/netiquette/netiquiz.html
My questions to my colleagues are: What social networking tools do you use? How do you use them? And where do you find the time to keep current on these sites? I invite you to share your thoughts on this topic so that your colleagues can learn from you and you can learn from your colleagues. After all….isn’t that what social networking is all about?