The internet is starting to become an unavoidable part of our lives. It’s everywhere. You’re on it right now, reading this article! And chances are, you’re also on it via social media. While the internet is a great place to communicate with friends and share ideas, it’s also a place that can get people in a lot of trouble. This is especially true when it comes to our professional lives. Yes, this does mean that sometimes, you might need to tone down the controversial tweets and inappropriate photos, but it’s important to maintain a good relationship with people in other areas of your life. Not convinced? Here are 7 reasons why you should be careful when presenting yourself online.

1. You might not know what you’re doing.

There are people who devote their entire careers to managing online presence of their companies, their clients or themselves. If you’re not one of those people, it’s entirely possible that your online presence could be kind of confusing. Sit down with your computer and open up your online accounts. Make sure they’re straightforward and consider decluttering by deleting things that aren’t entirely appropriate.

2. You need to stand out.

Many of us have pretty common names, so it’s important to find other ways to stand out from every other John or Jane Doe. Properly managing yourself online includes drawing attention to your profiles and accounts, especially if having a large Twitter following or a lot of connections on LinkedIn is important to your career.

3. You’re representing yourself.

How you behave online should reflect how you behave in real life. So when others view your online profiles, it’s important that you represent yourself well. You never know who might be looking at one of your accounts. You want to make yourself look good in any situation, so try to represent yourself online the way you would want to be perceived by others in person. I got professional photos taken of me to put on my website and several other places, and I only use my Twitter for things related to my writing career. That way, when others view these accounts, they’ll see how I would conduct myself in a professional setting.

4. You can show yourself off.

If you want to make yourself look really good, the internet is a great place to start. Portfolios, websites, blogs, professional social media accounts — these are all good outlets for showing off your abilities. Find a way to market yourself and your skills online and stick to it. It’s easy to generate traffic online and it’s impressive to others if you can successfully manage yourself on the internet. You should also try directing traffic from one of your accounts to another. For example, I have a link to my author profile for Lifehack on my website, as well as my Twitter account and my LinkedIn profile.

5. You never know who’s looking.

Prospective employers are big on researching new hires before committing to anything, but that’s not all. Often, people are friends with their family members on sites like Facebook. Coworkers can also sometimes view your profiles online. Keep in mind that there are tons of people who can view your online activity, and plan accordingly.

6. You could make yourself vulnerable.

Like I said, you never know who’s watching you online, and there are a lot of creeps in the world. Be careful when interacting with strangers online and never share too much of your personal information. Be mindful of what you’re saying and to whom, because the wrong thing can snowball into a big issue.

7. You can show instead of tell.

One look at your online activity can tell someone a lot more about you than your words ever could. Consider the internet as a way to demonstrate your abilities and personality in a way that interests people. Especially in today’s job market, prospective employers will view your online accounts and your website, if you have one. Being able to see what you do and how you behave is a better (and faster) indicator of what kind of employee you would be.

Featured photo credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham via flickr.com

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