The Business-Technology Weave

Mar 31 2011   12:08PM GMT

Social Networking Redux: Perception Management

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


Back in the days of my misspent youth, as CIO in a Fortune100 environment, one of my more favored positions was leading IT for a “perception management” company.


Perception Management was this firm’s rebranding and widening of the established Public Relations schema.  I rather enjoyed it and found it quite interesting.


Perception Management is extraordinarily important in this age of social networking:  Both in terms of personal SN and business:  Many businesses, particularly small and medium business (SMB) are utilizing SN because it is efficient, inexpensive, and readily available – easy access; easy setup.


We discussed a particular case of personal peril a couple posts ago, and – if you scroll through the history of this blog – a fair number of other SN perils and outcomes… essentially involving people saying embarrassing things about themselves or others, and being outed for it.


But now there are perils involving livelihoods and professional standing.                         


Courts personnel, lawyers, and other associates are now perusing jury pools’ members for biases or relationships that may taint and jeopardize the outcome of trials.  In some cases, attorneys have found actual relationships between seated jurors and defendants on trial!  This is solid grounds for dismissal and retrial – and that has happened.


Further, reviews of SN pages by folks with legal standing have uncovered information about illegal activities – sometimes resulting in arrest and prison. 


But of perhaps a more mundane concern to the professional readership here:  Hiring authorities are now perusing SN sites, simply taking names from resumes and Googling, Facebooking, and YouTubing around, and seeing what comes up.  And often, what comes up is… well, interesting.


You can certainly glean an assessment for someone’s maturity, their gravitas, and likely their overall suitability for any specific job from their SN postings, their friendships, their hobbies, and whatever else occupies their time and fancy.  And do you know what?  There ain’t a thing you can do about it.  Should you be screened from a job for something a potential employer saw online – you’d never know.


You could even be competing for a promotion at a present place of employment; it will become increasingly likely that HR and the manager up the line will review your online standing and presence along with internal performance reviews and documentation.


For the aforementioned SMB:  If you are using the ready-network of SN – with its undeniable enablement of business – ensure your folks are not blending “friending” with “businessing.”   That is, bleeding the jocularity and questionable taste of interactions between friends, and bringing that informality to the realm of business.  It’s easy enough to do when switching back and forth.


Perception Management:  Manage how you want to be perceived.  More importantly, be the person you want to be understood as being. 


Make certain your business adheres to proper protocols and styles of communication too.  Survey what is being done in the name of your domain.


Have that accurately reflected in all that you do online – in controlling perceptions.



March 31st:  On this day in 1963, Los Angeles ended streetcar service after 90 years.


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