Protecting Your Professional Image. Learn how your online social networking may be hurting your art business.

This post is a reminder why it is imperative to separate your personal life from your professional life online.

When it comes to social media such as Facebook, Twitter , MySpace, Flickr and YouTube (to only name a few) nothing is private. Social media is immediate and wide spread, that’s why they call it viral. Take some of these simple steps to make sure your personal actions don’t turn public in a matter of minutes.

Your private actions can be broadcasted to millions of people, saved on their desktops and re-circulated in the years to come.

We live in a world, where everyone has a camera and almost everyone has at least one social media account. We share everything online.  In an early Fidelis post we talked about the power of the press release and that everything that gets posted to the internet becomes public knowledge. If you post “questionable” personal photos to your social media pages have you created a future media relations nightmare?

I was reminded today just how incriminating a photo can be when I “friended” and visited the site of one of my nephews. A college student in business school, he has a charmed life. Smart, good-looking, plenty of opportunities— he has a big future ahead . . . until a prospective employer visits his Facebook page. Here they will find plenty of good reasons to question his employment at their firm. The photos aren’t as bad as you think, however what if this employer is deciding between him and one other candidate, could these images hurt him winning the position?

A recent article in McLean’s Business Magazine noted that head hunting firms and human resource managers research their job candidates online. Here’s where they learn about their candidates, who they “really are” and how they behave in public.

Saying all this, I want to point out that my nephew is a real upstanding young man. He puts himself through school. He is smart and works very hard for his good grades. But his social networking habits of today could hurt his long-term goals—why don’t they talk about this at business school!

The point I am trying to make is that there is a need to be selective about what you post online. Images you share should reflect you (and everyone in them) in a positive light—always.

Don’t blur the lines, separate your personal networks and social media from all of your business networks. For example, it’s okay to promote your art show on you personal Facebook page, but don’t use your personal page as your primary web portfolio. Not only will a potential customer be distracted of confused about the link, they may be turned off by your art when they have to sift through all your personal life to get to the artwork.

Separate your email addresses. One for work, one for personal. This will prevent sending a business colleague photos of you in your bathing suit from your last vacation. Use your website domain name as your primary business email–yourname@yourdomainname.com and keep something like a gmail account for your personal emails. This also allows you the ability to keep your spam to a minimum. People shed online email accounts regularly as their junk mail subscriptions build up.

And please resist the urge to “tag” everyone in your high school class reunion photos or in photos from the stag you attended in Vegas. There are some good reasons why some things should stay in Vegas.

I think you get my point.

And be courteous, take the same precautions when sharing your photos of your kids—some day they may be up for a big promotion, contract or commissioned artwork.

Related Posts about Social Media:

How to Promote Your Art Using Facebook

Art Marketing and Image-Management All-in-One