Making your digital footprint your own

(NOTE: I actually posted this extremely historically on Tumblr, when that was the previous Medium. I felt that it still holds true, and I’m trying to migrate to Medium, so I figured, I’d transfer some content.)

As a person who works in tech, I find it’s often hard to draw the line between what you do on the job and your public digital persona. You take it for granted that if you have a digital footprint for your professional endeavors — that will translate over to your personal digital footprint. Not so. I decided to revive this blog, just for that reason. I found that all my personal wealth of experience and execution were being swallowed up in my company’s digital footprint, and decided that needed to be remedied.

Some suggestions to help make this happen:

1) Blog/[INSERT PREFERRED DIGITAL ACTIVITY HERE] for your own sake. I know this sounds pretty silly and obvious — but we get so sucked up in our work, that at the end of the day we sacrifice our own causes because we’re tired, or just can’t fathom doing more of that today. So take the power back — even if you blog, promote social media, or do any other online activity on the job — remember to invest in yourself too.

2) This is a two-part suggestion. A) Separate ’em out + B) Own your name. Don’t ever assume that anyone has any idea that you are the face behind your company’s profile. Make sure to have your own digital profile — and here is where the second part comes in — that can easily be associated with you. While fluffydog417 is an adorable Twitter or Github handle it doesn’t do you any justice from a digital footprint perspective, be proud of your name and own it — and state professional and personal convictions with pride. I learned this the hard way. It took me a very long time — and I’m still learning mind you — one example, of this is how long it took me to separate my company and personal Tumblr (when Tumblr was still a thing). Your work is yours to own — that’s why you’re paid for it — make sure the world knows to attribute it to you as well. If you need to blog on the job in a white label approach — make sure to maintain a digital portfolio of your work. It’s yours.

3) Don’t be afraid to have your own opinions. Once you’re speaking in your own name you’re allowed to be yourself. You don’t need to hide behind some corporate agenda that you may not be completely onboard with. That doesn’t mean trash your company publicly or publicly support their competitors, but you can have a completely objective opinion and take on things, and promote them in your own name. If you’re a staunch supporter of animal rights & worked for BP during their oil spill crisis — you can indeed continue to promote your cause if you believe in it. You’re a person too.

4) Moderation. While we all like to support and promote our companies — considering that’s basically what we’re measured on — don’t let this come at the expense of alienating your own followership. If there’s a perfect match between what your company does — and your own personal interests — that’s a major win. But for most of us, while we may enjoy what we do and even take pride in our company’s technology — we have other interests too, and our following is basically built on that trust — that your content will be based on the personal interests you flout. So even if you’d like to retweet work stuff — don’t do it so excessively that the people who follow you for other reasons will no longer want to do so.

5) Engage. While I know that most people just want to be heard — nobody likes people that just talk at you, social media formats these days are there to actually create a conversation. I have learned and grown immensely from some of the online relationships I’ve cultivated. Leverage these — you’ll never know what you may discover — and how it may serve you going forward.

I’ve found that not enough people these days — and I’ve been 100% guilty of this as well — have learned to exhibit their skills publicly. With head hunters using your digital profile to establish who you are — without even meeting you — you need to be sure to be happy with how you’re represented, or surprisingly NOT represented digitally.