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(or, did you really mean to come across like that?)

A few weeks ago, one of the nGenera interns (and my very own mentee!), Brittany Creamer, wrote an insightful post on the Wikinomics blog on managing your personal identity online. Her main point was that you really can’t control what becomes attached to your name on the giant information superhighway known as the Internet.  But, what Brittany’s post doesn’t address is what happens when you make yourself look bad online.  And so, as a public service to the nGenera interns who will be leaving us this week, I’ve decided to share a little insight on managing your personal and professional reputation on-line.

I’m not going to go into details of the case in question, because, frankly, I don’t want to be a conduit for someone to continue to tarnish his/her own reputation, but I saw this Reputation Mangling (thanks, Barbara Ling for a new catchphrase, and hat tip to Maureen Sharib for the link!) in action last week, and was really disappointed by the levels to which otherwise professional-minded people will sink when they think no one else is watching.  

Rudeness, even under the guise of helpfulness, is still rudeness.  On-line rudeness is no better than in-person rudeness.  If you spend time working to cultivate a positive image for yourself on-line, you should do what it takes to protect that positive image, and rudeness is step one in the destruction of your personal brand.  Here are some things to remember:

  • No matter what any privacy policy might state, what you post on-line is very likely to be public, in perpetuity.  That means forever.  The internet does not yet appear to have a shelf life, and bits and bytes aren’t shredded after 7 years like your financial records are. You can safely assume that anything you put on-line is going to be available to anyone with the dedication and determination to find it. 
  • Your years of hard work building a solid, stable, positive reputation can be undone with just one moment of weakness.  By design, humans are emotional creatures, and our emotions sometimes get in the way of our judgement (and I am truly the queen of this, so I know of what I speak).  If someone denigrates you in public, the best course of action is to attempt to handle it privately, and with a lot of thought about what you’re going to say and whom you’re going to involve.  One mis-interpretation of what you’ve typed and your reputation could be severely damaged. 
  • Once your reputation is tarnished, it takes a lot more work to get it polished up again.  
  • If you want to provide advice to a specific person, do so carefully and in a private manner (emails, phone conversations, etc.).  When you’re directing advice to a specific person in a public forum, chances are you’re going to be interpreted in a manner you didn’t intend.
  • Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle

Since this is unsolicited advice, I feel obligated to point out that it is not directed at a specific person.  Instead, I hope that our interns, and other folks interested in their own personal branding and identity management, will find these tidbits to be helpful reminders that you are what you do.

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Over the past several weeks, there have been two exciting changes for me.

First and foremost, my company re-branded as nGenera. BSG Alliance was a great name with a lot of history, but we realized that our name didn’t reflect who we were as a company. nGenera is a much better reflection of who we are and what we do.

Let’s break it down…

nGen = Net Generation

nGen = Next Generation (as in Next Generation Enterprise)

nGen = The future.

I’ll spare any more rehashing of the details, but you can check out our updated web community for, as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story.

Next, I agreed to move out of my Corporate Communications role (which I loved), and accept the challenge of managing the Recruiting function for nGenera (which I love more).  So, I am now working with our team to map out the future of talent acquisition within nGenera.  As part of that change, I am re-branding the site.  I’ve been in Recruiting for a year now, which makes me far less seasoned than people like The Minnesota Headhunter, but it also means that I can’t really consider myself a “Newbie” anymore. So, in true nGen fashion, I am changing this blog to focus on nGen Talent Acquisition, rather than on the trials and tribulations of being a “new” recruiter.  Expect to see a lot more content focused on tools and technologies that make recruiting more nGen.

One of the greatest things about the new role is that I actually have some time set aside to blog, so this site should start rocking over the next couple of weeks.  And, like they say…

If this blog’s a rockin’, please come a knockin!

Man! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. A lot has happened in the last 2 months. First, we bought a little company called Iconixx, and added them to the BSG Alliance platform. Second, I became an aunt again. Third, we launched an internal communications vehicle (known as The Buzz), which is published Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Fourth, I got elected to the Board of Directors of my homeowner’s association. I also continue to manage the four kids and cute husband. So, without coming right out and using those as excuses… Aw, heck. I’m using them as excuses.

Onward and upward, then!

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article in The Buzz based upon an email sent by one of my colleagues. He was explaining that a potential customer used Google to research him before a meeting, and how what the customer found provided instant credibility.

I followed up to his comments with this:

In today’s connected world, people use Google. When there are candidates to interview – we Google them. When there are prospects to approach – we Google them. When there are potential business partners to meet – we Google them. And the results of those searches often help us develop initial impressions about the people with whom we’ll be interacting. Good or bad, those impressions are lasting.

Smart companies – NGE companies – encourage their team members to build on-line identities. On-line identities are helpful for team members in a personal sense, since they can increase visibility in the ever-tightening labor market, and make someone more desirable to potential employers. They’re also helpful to companies, though. The more “Buzz” a company can build through the on-line identities of their team members, the stronger the company brand. On-line identities are a 1-2 punch – the personal credibility of the team member is coupled with the brand credibility of the company, thereby making the customer experience that much better.

At BSG Alliance, we encourage our team members to build on-line identities. Collaboration, especially on-line collaboration, is absolutely essential to our NGEness. In fact, in our Policies and Procedures document, we’ve dedicated a whole section to our external electronic communication. Here’s a key point:

We expect BSG Alliance employees to be active, vigorous and opinionated in their engagement with the public. This may mean asserting and defending strong points of view, taking provocative positions that are not the norm, and overall participating in the challenge we have of educating the industry about the changes to business that we are leading.

If you’re interested in how you can build your on-line identity and help build the BSG Alliance brand, start by determining where you’re starting. Career Distinction has a tool for determining your Google Quotient (GQ), which is a great place to start. If you’re curious, my GQ is 6.5 out of 10. I have some identity building to do…