How To Come Out Of The Digital Closet
Written By: Adam Dince
“But I know a place where we can go. That’s still untouched by man. We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by. And the tall grass wave in the wind” – Don Henley, The End of The Innocence
Remember the good ole days when we were able to keep our personal and work lives separate? Remember when it used to be a real challenge to dig up information about someone online? Remember when the word “stalking” used to not be funny? Boy times have changed–especially for those of us who have chosen digital as a career.
In 1995, after swearing into the United States Navy, my recruiter said to me,
“You now live under a different set of laws and rules. You’re a GI, which means that the Government owns you!”
If I was going to be successful and move forward in my military career, I had to surrender to and embrace the idea that I no longer belonged to just myself anymore. Now, over 16 after my swearing in ceremony, I find myself surrendering to a similar notion—the notion that I no longer belong to myself, but to my audience as well. As a professional in digital advertising, it’s nearly impossible to be successful and remain an enigma.
If you blog, you’ve got to put a bit of personality into your writing. If you’re going to develop relationships with your readers, then you’re going to have to open yourself up within your content. Am I saying that you’ve got to share your dirtiest secrets? Not at all. What I am saying is that you’re going to have to give a point of view and not be afraid to say what you really think. You’re going to have to let people inside a bit. In other words, you’re going to have to be slightly vulnerable to people that you might not even know are reading your content.
For years I resisted getting personal on Twitter, because I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid that I’d tweet something that might be seen as negative and it would forever haunt me in some search engine result somewhere. So, I used Twitter to simply share my blog content and keep up with what the thought leaders in the industry were saying. In the meanwhile, my Twitter followers remained few and the social media traffic to my site was almost zero.
Recently, I decided to put myself out there and leave behind the fears of old. I began developing public relationships with people on Twitter. Within a matter of weeks, I had quadrupled the number of followers I had and have seen Twitter referral traffic to my Website skyrocket. Similarly, a majority of the people that I follow on Twitter do the same. We are a tight knit community, and while many of us have never met in person, we share content, we encourage each other’s thoughts, we respect each other, and as a team, we have become an influential group of people.
Yes it is okay to keep some things sacred. My Facebook profile is set to private, but that’s because it’s a personal space. I would never share on Twitter, many of the things I share on Facebook. What I’m getting at here is, you’re going to have to draw a line in the sand. You’re going to have to set boundaries, but fair and flexible boundaries. Yes, it’s okay to have a private life, however if you’re going to be successful in digital, you’re going to have to let your guard down just a bit and let the online community see that you’re human. Find a social network that you feel comfortable with and just be yourself.
If I get your resume and I can’t find anything about you on the first page of Google search results, I’m going to ask you why. If you’re going to work in digital, you’ve got to be digital yourself. You can’t preach what you don’t practice.
So often I hear, “Be careful what you put out there, because it could cost you a potential job.” I say the opposite, “Be careful what you don’t put out there, because it’s expected that you should have some sort of digital footprint.”
Here are some tips to building a Google Resume:
- Sign-up for a G+ account and post things every once in awhile
- Make sure you have a public LinkedIn profile
- Purchase your PersonalName.com (e.g., AdamDince.com) and make sure you’ve got content on it
- Get a Twitter handle that utilizes your name (e.g., @adamdince) and tweet!
- Make sure your Facebook page is registered with your name as the username (e.g., facebook.com/adamdince)
If you’re a brand, follow the same steps, but use your brand name. These are all really easy things to do!
So often, personal relationships end because one person doesn’t let the other person in. It’s the same in digital. If you’re not letting people in to your world, you’re not going to develop the types of relationships that are going to help you become an a meaningful member of the digital community. I’m also not advocating putting too much information out there. It’s all about the right balance.
The point of this article is to say that in order for you to be a successful digital professional in this world of new media, you must be willing to engage with the online community. You must surrender to the idea that you’re going to have to give up some of your privacy to build up your social equity. You’re going to have to embrace the reality that times have changed and in order to move forward, you’ve got to change with them.
Yes folks, it’s the end of the innocence.