How far are you willing to go?

This post touches upon another area of concern that people mull over when trying to figure out how to “be” in the online world. Continuing on my series based on the common misconceptions keeping people from engaging online, which started with “If you don’t ‘Get’ Social, Read this”.

I have always believed that you should stand behind anything you say – not just online, in life. It’s character and you should be proud of your character, it is who you are. Being online or being offline should not change this.

The Risks

Living in the online space poses it’s risks. People crave acceptance, and if they aren’t craving it, the reality is acceptance is essential in any space. You risk alienating people or being misunderstood. Every action online creates traces, you have to manage your “brand”. You can spend hours worrying about what people will think, what people will say, how you will look. If you are truly you and you are proud of who you are, then you should also ask yourself, what are you worried about?

Being genuine and respectful of others are the true guidelines, so how far are you willing to go? What are your perceived risks?

We make choices every day

Earlier this week I published a post in 12 Most Firing Employees. As I wrote the post, I questioned whether it was wise…the subject seemed controversial. I risked associating my name/firm with a subject that if people did not read it through, could be grossly misunderstood. I risked alienating my employees if they judged without reading (What if they became “scared”?) Before submitting it, I gave this a lot of thought. Finally, my conclusion was, this subject had great value, it represented my beliefs well, my employees know me, where I stand -everything I said, I believe in and so I have faith because I can stand behind it. Hopefully if there was question to what I really meant, people would read it and see that what I was advocating was all based from very balanced and caring perspective: the necessity for people to be happy at work and how as a leader sometimes you have to make tough choices to provide the right environment for yourself, others and the team. I went ahead with submitting it, I took the chance.

How many people don’t feel comfortable enough to be online because of fear of acceptance or judgement?

Bruce Sallan, successful Author, Radio talk show host, Twitter Chat host (#Dadchat) and overall “person extraordinare” wrote a post today reviewing the participation in his most recent chat, vs. other chats. He was questioning whether it was just timing, or the subject (God and Abstinence) that gave this week’s chat a lighter participation than other chats.

A little background

I am a business person, I think it is important for you to realize as you read my perspectives, I am not speaking as a “Social Media Expert” I am speaking as a person, a person in this online world just like you. As a person, I have to manage my image, I have to think about my company, my employees, my friends, my clients, my family. When I speak, I ask myself, “Do I represent them well, do I bring “honor” to all that I represent?” It is a lot to think about.

What is the value of Twitter?

When I started using twitter, the draw and what really brought me into the space was knowledge seeking, sharing with other professionals – learning from online bloggers or journalists and authors in leadership, customer service and marketing. BNET, HBR and The New York Times were really my stomping grounds. Although I had had a twitter account for a long time, I had never really used it. What did I care about when someone is going to the grocery store, or trying on a new pair of pants? I don’t have time for that… Sound familiar?

Then things changed, when I started to notice my favorite authors ( Rossbeth Moss Kanter, Nicolas Kristof, David Armano) were on Twitter, that’s where I really started to see the value. I could keep up with their brilliant thinking, simply by hitting follow. Why on earth would I cheat myself of this? I hit follow.

As I became more aware of the environment and tools and resources available, I started to research what people were doing in this online space ( I found Chris Brogan started reading him- or perhaps I should say, learning from his online development and his journey which he shares liberally and generously), I started linking all the things I like to read (via email updates- such as FastCompany) into Twitter, found more tools, more people, more brilliant minds & initiatives to learn from. My stream became rich.

Eventually, I entered into dialog, signing up for Hashable, being drawn into the #Usguys stream by @Josepf was a big key. I discovered focused twitter chats. More than that I discovered amazing people who I could learn from and dialog with who have now become great friends. The twitter chats enhanced the value I can get out of the internet world with not only access but interaction and focused conversation. It’s the dialogue that brings you further. It’s sharing your opinions and bouncing ideas around that truly allow evolution and development.

Protecting your Image

As I read through Bruce’s post: “What do people want to talk about?”, which questioned why participation had been lighter this week than the previous weeks, given the subject of this week’s chat “God and Abstinence”, I had an inkling to one possibility, and questioned, was it something that people feared would affect their image?

Here are some excerpts from my comment on Bruce’s post. It touches on an issue that I think really concerns many people in the online space:

Taking chances

Here were my thoughts for Bruce, I would love to hear yours – Please join in on the comments below , or check out Bruce’s blog on the matter which inspired this post.

#Dadchat is always fun and at the same time hits some good serious points for parents, I think it makes for the perfect place to meet others (parents) and get to know more about them in that role.

Because it’s on Twitter, unless you’re on Twitter specifically as a “parent” I think its possible some people might stay away from Religious or Political topics, and maybe even sex topics because it potentially can effect your (personal) brand.

So many people have created personal brands that don’t include very much depth in regard to their personal beliefs or these “private issues”.

I once heard – somewhere “you don’t talk about religion, politics or money” at the dinner table (at a dinner party), I happen to like that concept – I guess because these are the issues that hit hard, and can potentially emote fired conversation – at a dinner party, you just don’t want things to become uncomfortable for anyone, as a host you want everyone to feel accepted and valued… unless of course all guests are close personal friends, people you know a lot about….

You would hope that people in general have an open mind, can “handle” a good debate, but the reality is some people don’t and the risk, from a professional perspective in a Twitter Chat is possibly that you could alienate people, who otherwise would have no reason to be alienated if you start flooding your stream with comments potentially taken out of context.

Maybe this is why the topic was not as well participated in…maybe…

On the flip side, I think #Dadchat participants are fairly open and are a great crowd, the chat itself moves fast, is always in good nature and no one stomps off in a huff – ever – this is such a GREAT community!

The true challenge, if the question truly was based on the topic “God and Abstinence” a true hard hitting topic,is to know if anyone “stayed away” because of it.

I am not sure our #Dadchat crew would have, but if they did, would it have been because of the public nature of the debate (ex: clients, colleagues can see your tweets out of context?)

Does anyone worry about this? Or was it just timing, spring time coming, time change, workload, family time. Could have been anything!

Looking forward to many more exciting debates and conversation #Dadchat. I for one LOVE the diverse community and I think its a huge benefit for parents to have the time to think like parents online for that hour a week, and not get lost in the business world of twitter completely. Thanks for bringing that balance, and these tough topics the table.


Is there a line? Where do you draw it?

We hear so much about being careful with what we put online…Implications on job opportunities/current positions.
Who you are and where you are in life certainly play a role in what you feel you can and can’t do online. What works for me, Bruce Sallan, JC Little (refer to her famous “Twitter Striptease”), or others in the online space will be different every time. You have to find what works for you. There is a lot of value to interacting and sharing views with others. This is how great ideas develop, new possibilities are found… It is also how you let people get to know you!

Be Appropriate

The online world is no different than the real world. Be appropriate. If you have some basic judgement, you will know how to express your views or manage a conversation appropriately. Have some faith in yourself. Know what direction you are going in, never lose track of that, you will be okay.

The Art of You

I call this learning the Art of “You”. The key is to be genuine, be respectful (of yourself, and others around you). Don’t be afraid to participate.

The key is finding balance, and having the forethought to manage yourself in respect of all these important aspects of your life. It is an art, the art of communication, and the only way to be good at it is to become involved. It is the art of being you in 140 characters, in blogging, in anything. Watch, learn and jump in. When you do that, always remember that anyone could be watching anything at any time, so be true to yourself in this way you will never have a hard time explaining anything.

  • How do you manage your online persona so that you represent your “Personal Brand” – does your participation in chats cross lines between personal and business?
  • Do you want to mix personal and professional? Is there a risk there for you?

The marriage between your online persona and your personal views:

  • How far are you willing to go? What holds you back, if anything?

Be bold, isn’t that the key to great thinking and innovation?