The new age is upon us. “The times, they are a changin’,” as Dylan put it. Only a short time ago I did not even know what new media was. New media has expanded the way I look at the internet, social media, and professional networking more than I ever could have in the past. I was completely blown away when I discovered how many networking sites are out there. One of my previous blog posts gives a clear explanation of what my experience with new media was like no more then a couple months ago. As the title suggests, defiant is what I was toward the new ways of the internet (i.e. Twitter, Blogging, Professional Networking). I never used the internet for more than a Google search, or the occasional how-to video on YouTube. As I said above, the new age is upon us and it is upon me. I have gone from only using Facebook socially, to being involved with different professional networks and developing an online persona. Having said that, different forms of social media channel different aspects of the online persona, the professional realm and the social realm. The advantage this gives me in the professional world is tremendous and could never be done with these tools.
My online persona as an academic began when my writing and rhetoric class introduced me to the Oakland University e-portfolio. The e-portfolio is a place for OU students to network professionaly. Students can present accomplishments, academics, skills, employment, ect, and connect with other students and faculty. I was amazed at how easy this site was to use and understand and I was excited to get it up and running. The relationships we earn in college are important, and now thanks to the e-portfolio, they remain relevant after graduation in the professional realm. Unlike Facebook, where users upload vacation photos and such, the OU e-portfolio is designed to market strictly professional skills.
What literally spawned from the e-portfolio for me was when I was introduced to Linkedin. Linkedin is even more in depth then the e-portfolio and is available to a much wider array of people. It is not just for OU students, but rather for business professionals, teachers, and employers. I admit, at first I was a little bit intimidated by Linkedin simply due to the fact that so much personal information is required. Once I realized that it was simply a matter of adjusting the privacy settings, I was able to see exactly what this site is all about. Strictly professional. In fact, I knew that Linkedin was a legitimate when I found my mom and a few other family members, all of whom are very involved in the corporate world. Now that I am on Linkedin, I can network with real buisness professionals in the real world without even having to exert any physical energy. With a few clicks of the mouse, my entire resume, areas of expertise, my academic record are available to a vast amount of future employers more so then I ever could have without it. Again, when compared to Facebook, Linkedin is not a place to update your social status or to keep in touch with old friends. It is a place for business. It is a place for the future.
One of the best things about these two professional networking sites is the ability to interconnect them. If a student sees my e-portfolio, they can instantly be linked to my Linkedin page, my blog, Facebook and Twitter. From one page, future employers and colleagues can see my entire online persona which is very important for convenience and efficiency.
I think the second major part in developing a professional online persona is related to social networking website such as Twitter and Facebook. We have all heard the horror stories about employees getting fired or not hired due to what some would consider negative content on Facebook or possibly Twitter. However, I like to think that my Facebook is a place to let people know who I am as a human being. Although there are many professional aspects associated with Facebook these days, I prefer to use Linkedin for networking with academics. I recently went through my Facebook and cleared out a lot of uneccessary and unprofessional content of any kind. I like my Facebook to only give people a brief insight into who I am outside of the professional realm.
I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter, but recently have been using Twitter to keep up on current events in news and in buisiness. Personally, I have not yet found the professional aspect of Twitter. However, I keep the possibility in my head that a future employer could potentially want to look at my Twitter page. Just keep it professional. Its all about class, 110% class.
The combination of the professional aspect and the social aspect is what develops the complete online professional persona. It cannot be done with just one or the other. An employer needs to understand the social aspect of a person (Facebook, Twitter, ect) coupled with the professional (Linkedin, e-portfolio). I plan to follow this formula in the future to ensure that I make the most of social and new media in order to further develop my persona as an academic.