Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Internet and Your Career

I spent this week thinking a lot about blogging, Tweeting, and the Internet. I read this Huffington Post article by Jason Pinter and remembered when he was fired and the rumors and speculation that followed. I also thought of the backlash that all bloggers and Tweeters have received at one point or another and, most important, I thought about the careful line we all tread to be interesting and insightful and still keep our jobs.

Jason is certainly right when he talks about how much social networking has changed in just three short years. Three years ago I had just entered the world of blogging and was very careful about what I said and did. Other agents were critical of the few of us who blogged and hardly anyone was on Facebook. Now, though, it seems more and more agents blog and almost everyone Tweets. And Facebook. Well, I have 730 “friends,” few of whom I actually know personally. While I agree that publishing is embracing social networking and it’s a good thing, I’m not always sure that everyone is embracing it in a way that’s helping them.

As many of you know, I’m a very occasional Tweeter (you can find me at @BookEndsJessica), a regular blogger, and I have a public Facebook page (Jessica Faust BookEnds). With each post, Tweet, or status update I make I think carefully about my audience and how I want to be perceived. I also have a private Facebook page where I let it all hang out (without the photos) and am very careful about allowing only friends and family in as “friends.” The truth is while I don’t have a boss in the context of someone else sitting in my office whom I answer to, I still have a number of bosses in the form of my clients. I also have to answer to editors and other publishing professionals and want them to only see “work Jessica.” Not all the other Jessicas that my poor family has to see.

We’ve talked a great deal about building your brand as a published author and what you want others to see and know about you and what you probably should or shouldn’t post on these pages. What we haven’t often talked about is who you allow in as your friends. The other day I logged into Jessica Faust BookEnds to see a very political status on one of my “friend’s” pages. It was the kind of status that was sure to provoke some heavy debate and the kind of status that contained information I probably don’t want to know about clients or potential clients. I think a lot of unpublished writers out there forget that seeking publication is a job search, and like any job search you probably want to be careful about what potential future employers (I’m thinking publishers here) know about you. Do you really want every tirade, every sick day, or every political rant cataloged for the world to see?

I’m happy to have lots of “friends” on my Facebook page, but I wonder, if you’re going to be my “friend,” would you better serve yourself to also have a public and private page for the two yous? Do you really want your future agent, for example, to see your spring break photos, your daughter’s first trip to the potty, or hear about your rather extreme political views?