Being professional and managing your identity
This new podcast has been causing quite the discussion on Twitter this morning and I thought I’d take a moment with a few thoughts. The podcast is this one and you might want to listen to it, for the first couple minutes, but it will be truly be a waste of your time and will leave you feeling dirty about some of the other people in your profession. Sexist, racist, homophobic, they run the full gamut. One person was brave enough to post on forums.asp.net “announcing” the podcast with his normal user account, but it got deleted as the podcast is quite inappropriate. He had another post looking for contributors, but that whole thing is besides my point. I won’t link to him to spare him additional Google hits to damage what remains of his credibility. And I don’t want to necessarily talk about the podcast.
I want to talk about professionalism and your brand.
It is kind of ironic that the podcast talks about how you should always be professional in your code comments while producing what they did (think beyond just code comments). In this day and age, the internet is pervasive and data is everywhere. Google crawls everything, and it remembers everything. The post looking for contributors talks about other podcasts being “careful about how they talk”. When its online, it isn’t about being careful how you talk, or even being professional. It is about managing your identity.
The days of “dress to impress” are over. You are no longer judged just by how you physically present yourself, you are your Google results. You could go into a job interview dressed to the T, well presented and the pillar of what they are looking for. But its becoming more common where they’ll Google your name and finding out who you really are.
What you do online stays with your forever. You don’t need to be prim and proper by any means. Just use common sense. You are managing your brand. What your coworkers see, your family, your future employers. You can be bold and opinionated, you can still speak your mind, but do it intelligently. Something like that single podcast can ignite a fire of comments and posts, links, name mentions, and then when someone Google’s your name, they’ll find your drunk rants And it can be hard to manage your brand once it has taken off like that.
A while ago, I’d found this presentation through Twitter about “Evangelizing Yourself” by Whitney Hess. It is chalked full of wisdom. Listen to it (the play button has the audio, I missed that at first). It is all about what I’m trying to say and says it much better.