Social networking platforms have given us the opportunity to connect with individuals and organizations from our backyard to across the world. Networking with people and companies you may not have had the chance to in the past is a great way to get to know those in your industry.
However, the rise of social networking may have also produced a lack of awareness for personal privacy. Further, “friending” or interacting with complete strangers may not be as safe as you think. Why?
You’re being judged by content that’s not yours. You can control the content you produce on your own. However, you may not be able to control what other people post, tweet, or link to you and your social networks. Sure, you can always delete spam or hide questionable links, but how do you know your social networks aren’t being followed? Particularly if you’re searching for jobs, you should think about monitoring what other people are saying to you, in addition to the other way around.
For example, if a person you’re not familiar with continues to tag you in posts that aren’t exactly noteworthy, it may be a good idea to either defriend them or hide those particular posts. Never assume that employers (or anyone else for that matter) will be able to tell the difference between you and your network.
You may not know who’s behind the screen. Sure, it may have been okay to friend people you didn’t know when your personal brand was the last thing on your mind. However, friending contacts without regard to who they are may be a risky move. How do you know they aren’t an employer undercover? Or a spammer wanting to steal your online identity? These types of situations happen, especially since many of us practically put our lives online. If you are tempted to friend people you don’t know online, at least do some research and try to be as careful as possible. You never know who’s behind the screen.
More isn’t always better. Remember when social networking was new to you? You may have been the type of individual to only care about the quantity of followers, not the quality. However, more contacts doesn’t always mean better. In fact, you may want to think about being more strict when it comes to friending people you don’t know. Why? Well, once you open up your social networks to strangers you have no intention of interacting with, you decrease your privacy, which is a growing problem in the online world. Try to put your focus on grooming the content of your networks as opposed to a numbers game. Your personal brand will thank you.
Do you friend people you don’t know on your social networks? Has it gotten you in trouble?