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Professionals are Transparent

I was adding friends on the MCAI-OC Community Page the other day and was struck once again by the number of pros who shoot themselves in the foot with social networking. Are you one of them? Here's a few basic pointers that apply to Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, and others including our MCAI-OC Community...

Like most social networking sites the MCAI-OC Community Page lets you reach, become friends and share with other professionals in a number of ways:

  • Connect and expand your network
  • View profiles and add new friends
  • Share your photos and videos
  • Create your own group or join others

But as a professional whose time is valuable, I am not likely to share any of these functions with someone I can't identify! For starters, why would anyone who wants to connect with other professionals use a screen name or email handles that hides who they are-or worse, creates a non-professional or even negative impression?

If you're networking for business I suggest you use your real name-all of it! It's a good idea not to hide behind an obscure screen name or get too cutsie with your email name. Names like kuteegirl97 or bikedude are an instant red flag to me. Not only are they nonprofessional (remember this isn't high school social for me --it's business) they tell me nothing about you....which, considering the thought you put into picking a name like that, may be a good thing for you.

Worst of all are names that actually convey a negative image. weedtoker100 or whichendisup may be funny to ninth graders but will kill any possible business connections you may hope to make--unless it's at the Medical Marijuana Dispensary website.

What are you hiding? How about using your real name? Ever notice how real businesses--businesses that make real money with real employees who get paid--format their email names? Usually it's some version of: first initial-dot-last name @ our corporate URL. Why do you think they do that? Because they have no imagination or sense of humor? Maybe they desperately want to be boring. Or maybe it's because a plain straightforward ID helps people find you--and in the case of social networking for business, WANT to find you!

The exception to this is a carefully thought out, creative screen name that tells strangers what you do. These handles may not reveal your name but if done well they are memorable marketing devices. A writer friend uses BonMot7. It's also on his license plate. A well respected announcer uses thevo4u. This can actually be helpful in emails where the URL is an ISP like gmail or where your company name is not self-explanatory.

Unless you're Cher I suggest you use both your names. Again, a good exception is someone like comedian and character actor Robert Deioma who markets his act as Bubba DaSkitso, So registering as just Bubba on certain social networking sites may make sense. My friend, voice artist Tina Wilson, uses This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

And finally, why would anyone go to the trouble of signing up for a networking site and NOT fill in some--at the very least basic--contact information? Yes, it happens-much too frequently I find. Fine, put 99 as your age and don't list any personal info, but DO tell me what you do professionally and give me a reason to want to contact you and add you as a "friend."

In short, if you're networking online for business, make yourself transparent: be easy to identify, easy to get to know and post enough information so I will want to know you and possibly work with you!

--John Coleman