Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Do Party Photos On Social Networking Sites Hurt Your Professional Image?

The other day I got the following email from a nice guy who reads this blog in response to a post:

I read your article and just started following you on Twitter. A few of us in the Real Estate community have formed a fairly fun, close group on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As one of the Generation Y members, I frequently get into discussions and heated debates over Generation Y in the workplace and as targets for marketing dollars.

My question pertains to the idea of dressing for success and how it relates to Generation Y. My day job has me in a suit and tie every day. This surprises many close friends, because they know this isn't my personality outside of work. I avoid having my picture online as much as possible, but have finally used a couple as avatars in sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Do you see it as a negative if pictures of someone in Gen Y are showing them in their social life, without any negative elements (alcohol, parties, strippers, illegal activities, etc.) included in the pictures?

Here was my response:

This is a hot topic. I am 41, and folks my age or older will stay one thing, and those who are in their 20's will argue a different point of view. The question here is what will those Gen Y folks think when they are 40?

The baby boomer told the world in the 1960s and 1970's "Don't Trust Anyone Over 40!".....ahhhhhh, they have changed their minds now that they are in their 50's and 60's. My guess is that your parents had one way of seeing the world in their 20's, and some different perspectives AFTER they had jobs, mortgages, marriages, children, college tuition to pay for, elderly parents to worry about and retirement savings accounts. Go ask your mom and dad if I am right (Heck, maybe I am wrong).

With that perspective, I think that this becomes a much more complicated question. To your peers, party pics with booze and half naked friends at a beach party is just part of life. To potential clients who might be older, ...this might appear to be a red flag that will send them running to your competitor. So avoiding those types of pictures is a good idea.

I use photos on my LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.... This helps you build your brand. Humans are visual creatures, so I think NOT using photos in social online networking is a mistake... But choose wisely and always be professional. This does not mean a suit and tie. I rarely wear a tie... but do when it is appropriate.

As far as some photos with friends...that is fine, it shows you as human. But I see MANY in your generation with pics that include booze, drugs, sexual situations, etc.... Those might come back to haunt them when they are no longer 20 something.

Have A Great Day.



Admin said...

Nice Effort,
keep it up
Job-Hunt: Aims at helping the Fresh Graduates, Engineeers, MBA's to get jobs in good companies

Bruce Allen said...

I agree with Thom and would like to offer one more thought. How do you feel about the pictures you post if they appeared on the front page of the New York Times (as has happened just today with Ashley Alexandra Dupré)

While her situation is exceptional it points at a truth -- the internet will make your life transparent and at odds with how you might like to be perceived in all parts of your persona.

If you believed that any photo you post will get printed in the New York Times, what photos would you publish?