Friday, February 01, 2008

It's 10:00....Do You Know Where Your Employees Are?

Are you aware of what messages your staff members are sending out via email and other online social media tools? What are they saying to your prospects? More thought provoking, however, is what images are they portraying on their blogs, Facebook, MySpace pages and other online sites?

All of this impacts the reputation of your company. If you are not thinking about this, you might be in for a big surprise.

The below is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, but I wish I could link you to the real websites and show you the name of the company this cheeseball works for....but alas, I want to behave with class (unlike our friend in this sordid tale).

While this might be an extreme example, similar things are going on all over the place. If you own a company, or manage people, you need to be aware of what your employees are doing in the online environment...both when officially representing your business and beyond. That being said, there is a lot of positive things happening in the world of online social networking and we can (and should) learn a lot from the Millennial generation . How you properly utilize this digital world can make big difference in the success of your business. Social Media is here to stay and it would be short sighted to assume that the negatives outweigh the positives.


A business professional, Ms. Smith, who works for a fast-growing company received the below email from a service provider (We will call him "Jimmy Jones" from "Acme Company") whom she had never met. The subject line was Acme Company vs. Brand X. Brand X is a reputable and well known company who provides quality services for Ms. Smith's organization.

Dear Ms. Smith,

I understand that you have or are currently working with Brand X. Are they doing everything you would like them to do to? Are you happy with the ROI they are producing? Are they able to tie Productivity directly to your bottom line? Are they working with Managers to mitigate risk and develop the infrastructure needed to grow?

Ms. Smith, I'm not sure if the Acme Company is the answer to your prayers, but I do know that we have the Expertise and Resources you are looking for, for typically about Half the cost of a single employee.

Do you have 15 minutes for us to stop by your office? I am confident that you will see value in the Services we provide. When is a good day for you? Please let me know.

Jimmy Jones
Director of Sales
Acme Company

Ms Smith was appalled to receive such an email from someone who wanted to earn her business. It is not a good business practice to try to attack a trusted service provider no matter what magic bells and whistles your company might offer. Always sell on your own merits, don't do a side by side comparison or attack. This guy is learning his sales techniques from the 2008 presidential election: Hillary Clinton vs. Barak Obama.....John McCain vs. Mitt Romney. Yike Jimmy...get a clue.

A simple Google search produced Jimmy's MySpace page, which takes us to a whole new level of interest in Jimmy and his employer:

Jimmy is 23 years old and recently out of college. His MySpace page is covered with Playboy Bunnies, sexy models (hello cleavage) and other sexually oriented innuendos. Video clips from from random pop-culture movies are posted, including a clip of someone smoking pot from a bong. His screen nickname is "Chick Magnet 345" (not the real name, but equally as cheesy), and all of his 173 "online friends" are young attractive women pictured in sexy clothes or party boys holding beers....with messages asking him about the latest parties...."Cheers!"

I could go on with the description, but you wouldn't believe me. The most amusing part is that he has his company's logo and name (and his income level) readily posted for all to see. It also states he was a business finance major in college...but apparently his school did not teach anything about behaving in a professional manner in the real world. Oh, did I mention he lists "binge drinking" amongst his interests and "Pants Off - Dance Off" amongst his favorite TV Shows (Good Lord, I don't even know what that is).

Additionally Jimmy had no profile on LinkedIn or any other professional online networking sites. Just the MySpace profile, which I am sure Ms. Smith (and most other grown-up women) would find offensive.

I imagine that Jimmy's boss would be horrified about both his out going email to the prospect and his childish MySpace page with the company logo just below the bust line of the stripper's picture. I am also fairly confident his mother would not be pleased either.

This brings up some interesting points to ponder. If you are an employer and have a staff of twenty-somethings working for you, have you educated them on proper sales techniques? Is sending an email like this really a good tactic? Have you ever considered how your staff is using your logo and company information on the internet? When someone chooses to post a public profile on a site like MySpace, does their boss have a right to be concerned about the image it puts forward for their company? Lots to think about on this topic. Is this a generational issue, or does Jimmy need to grow up if he is going to be a sales manager in the business community?

Yes, I swear on a stack of bibles...all of this is true. Only the names have been changed.

Do you know a "Jimmy"? ...... Are you a "Jimmy"? ..... Do you employ a "Jimmy"? Or am I just an old guy who is out of touch?

Have A Great Day.


PS - If you are under 40 years old, you many not get the title of this post. That's okay, I don't know what "Pants Off - Dance Off" is all about either!


Anonymous said...

This is too funny. I always wonder why people put such things on their MySpace pages, as HR professionals now regularly do internet searches on potential hires. Jimmy is removing himself from talent pool.

Mary Pat

Anita said...

There has been plenty of publicity about employers searching MySpace pages, and I know that college career counselors are advising students to be very careful about what is posted online about them. I am beginning to think that some people (such as Jimmy) have made a concious choice to ignore the advice. That's why it is so important for employers to communicate their ethics and employment rules not only in writing to all employees, but to also verbally enforce them as well. Too many times employers just sort of hope that employees will figure it all out, but that isn't going to cut it. There needs to be clear communication about what is and is not OK, and managers need to be trained on how to deliver that message consistently to employees of all ages. That way, someone like Jimmy has no excuse as to why he clearly violated those rules. Does this have to do with different generations? In this specific case, probably yes. But I also think that employers overall have to do a better job of being clear about their policies, and then walking the talk. In the meantime, Jimmy deserves to be fired for being such a stupid, offensive jerk.
Anita Bruzzese

Anonymous said...


I don't even know how to respond to this guy's childish behavior. Part of me wants to say that he's allowed to do what he wants on his personal time. But it definitely reflects horribly onto the company. And since he's obviously one of the company's public faces, they should reign him in.

It might be different if he worked in the back office where the public never saw him. But his public image needs to be at least a little more tasteful.

It's amazing the kind of things you run into in this world.

Pete Monfre said...

Bottom line here: Jimmy is an idiot. However, his pathetic attempts at selling are not uncommon. This is why salespeople get such a bad reputation. There are simply so many bad ones it is easy to think they are all morons.

What Jimmy doesn't get is that people buy from those they RESPECT. They don't have to like the salesperson. But they don't buy unless they respect them.

I'm willing to bet Jimmy isn't well respected and is not a top producer.

Pants off, Dance off?! I really have to watch more TV...

Pete Monfre

Answer said...

Integrity will get you far. If you have to fear that your actions might be conflicting with your job, whether in this horribly obvious way, or in the way you represent yourself in public, one ought to think about their career paths. Confidence is the issue. One who has a good track record, and has shown integrity across the board, can walk into work with a sense that they belong, and does not have to walk on tip toes around the office.
I think it's pretty dispicable what "Jimmy Jones" did, and the fact that he got caught was a result of him being dishonest. (sort of a duh) In conclusion, be passionate, and have integrity, work hard, and don't cheat.

Anonymous said...

This reflects poorly on both Jimmy and his employer. If I had a professional sales staff of 20 somethings working for me, you can bet I would do a quick Google search on them once a quarter. Also, why did Jimmy not set his MySpace page to private for just his friends to see him look like an idiot? Did this guy go to SDSU? LOL!

Lucy said...

I'm still trying to learn to live with all of the twentysomethings wearing iPods all day while at work. I work in a majority cubicle environment and, while I certainly understand the need to block out some of the noise, I do not understand playing an iPod so loudly that a person can stand next to you and you can't hear them speaking. I'm constantly being forced to tap someone on the shoulder, watch them jump out of their skin, then attempt to have a work related conversation. It's annoying.

Anonymous said...

I hope never to encounter a "Jimmy" at work. I mean to have your company logo associated with playboy bunnies is just horrifying beyond belief. The problem is, how do you monitor these things? Obviously, this "Jimmy" fellow has no qualms for what his actions might do to the reputation of the company he works for.