As I was doing some background checking on a potential client yesterday who wanted 30 net terms it occurred to me that everything we do as an individual has an impact on our business. We live in a world where virtually everything we do is available to the public eye. From the books we read to the company we keep to our political affiliations. A comment to a friend on facebook may make its way to a potential business partner a year down the road.
We live in a world where we are connected to our friends, relatives, business associates, vendors, clients and everyone they know through an interconnected collection of computers strung together from one end of the globe to the other. Our opinions, statements, business practices, where we live, work, the car we drive and what we had for lunch last Tuesday is available for any and all who are interested.
I was recently told by a public relations expert to be very careful of any political conversations that I have online with friends, because an innocent comment made on someone Facebook wall may appear before a potential client whose personal political view do not agree with mine and that could potentially ruin a deal in the making.
It is scary to think that my personal life and my business life can no longer be kept separate from one another and that I have to watch what I say to a friend in Facebook or on Twitter because of who may or may not end up reading those thoughts and opinions months down the road.
Employers have been using Google and Yahoo to check job applicants and more recently have turned to Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to understand an applicant and using this information in assisting in the selection decision process. But it doesn’t stop there; it can also be used to check out potential business partners, clients, vendors, etc. So needless to say you need to be careful what you say regardless of who you are saying it to. A comment made in good humor to your brother based on a conversation that started face to face last weekend at a family barbecue can be taken completely out of context and the next thing you know you are left scratching your head wondering why a deal you thought was in the bag has suddenly been taken off the table.
There are many that will argue that there are serious privacy issues involved in all this, and they may very well be right, but that isn’t going to help you in the here and now. So my advice here is to use caution and common sense when writing on walls or discussing anything in any forum that has the potential of ending up in front of someone you are doing business with.