Do You Have any Social Networking Advice for Students?

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I’m originally from the great state of Iowa. Some nice folks in Kansas asked me to present their Keynote speech at their welcome back orientation. At some point during the live presentation, the video feed died. So, I re-recorded this video. I have to thank the people at Southwestern College for giving me the opportunity to share the Do’s and Dont’s of Social Networking.

When I began college in 1991, there really was no Internet. It was the next year that I first got online. At that point, you couldn’t do anything other than read and write text. Yeah, you could upload graphics, but no one could really see them. We’ve come a long way, to the era of Social Networking sites. So without further ado, I wanted to delve into my Top Ten List.

  • Whatever you do online, it goes onto your permanent record. You may think in a moment of frivolity that you should share a photo or video. But if you put it on the Internet, assume it will be there forever. Trust me, once it’s there, it’s there to stay.
  • Always be mindful of your privacy. It may be ‘cool’ to share where exactly you’re at. But anything you share can, and will, get picked up. Be careful about what you share. You don’t have to share everything. Be cognizant about how many details you share.
  • Don’t trust people implicitly. You really have no way to find out if the person on the other side of the screen is being truthful about who and what they are. It’s a sad fact that people aren’t always who they say they are.
  • Own what you do. Whatever you happen to be sharing and doing… just own it. Do what you want to do, but be careful about what you do. If it’s not yours to share, then don’t. If you want to share someone else’s material or content, make sure you have permission.
  • Engage. This would be in relation to leaving comments on articles, MySpace or Facebook profiles, or a blog. You don’t want to be stupid online. Don’t leave insipid comments. Just because it’s ‘online’, doesn’t mean it’s not serious.
  • Be respectful. Be respectable. Be respected. If you handle yourself with professionalism, you’ll be perceived as a very mature individual.
  • Be Yourself. Don’t pretend to be something or someone you are not. Be you, at all times.
  • Watch out for flame wars. This is something that happens when you get into heated discussions. Don’t resort to namecalling, or getting personal with what you’re saying. You’ll come across as immature and even rude. That takes you right back to my #1 tip about things following you forever.
  • Learn how to communicate before doing it. How do you want others to perceive you? Do you want to sound confidant, mature and professional? Using proper language skills will go a long way towards achieving this goal.
  • Your future friends, employers and colleagues are watching. I’ve said it twice now, but I cannot stress it enough: What you put online now will follow you throughout your life. Things like Google Cache will make sure of it. Before you post that rant on your blog full of cursing and angst… ask yourself if that is something you want your children or future spouse to read. Would a prospective employer be turned off by what you’ve said?

So we’ve basically circled right back to where we started. Whatever you do, it’s going to be there. Always be careful when you put things ‘out there’ online. And of course, remember that you don’t know who is watching.

To end this talk, I want to say I’m sorry to Tony. Well, or maybe not. Either I managed to obliterate his chance of ever getting a date again, or I just made him hugely popular. I sincerely hope that it’s the popularity side.

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