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Patti Nuttycombe Cochran Articles


True Life Tales of Social Media Gone Bad

May 5th, 2010 ::

by Robin Ferrier

Image: jessicafm / Jessica Merz, Flicker Creative Commons

In the category of “great minds think alike,” Patti Nuttycombe Cochran sent in her post about career ending social media moves as I was contemplating a similar post. But I had a slightly different approach to this topic that actually provides a good follow-up to her post.

You may think her warnings were bluster and overblown cautionary tales that don’t apply to you. Others thought that as well… or just didn’t think, as the stories below will show. So, without further ado, I present: True Life Tales of Social Media Gone Bad… Very, Very Bad

Twitter, Memphis and FedEx: In 2009, a PR rep hopped on a flight to Memphis, Tennessee, to give a presentation about digital media to a large group of FedEx executives and staff. As he was landing, the employee tweeted his unflattering feelings about Memphis. A FedEx employee discovered the tweet and shared it with executives at FedEx and the PR agency for which the rep worked.

The employee was lucky in this case. The client forgave him and he wasn’t fired. But this move could have been a career ender if the circumstances were different — say, if the rep in question was only starting to establish his reputation (like we assume many of our readers are) or if FedEx wasn’t so forgiving and had pulled their business from the PR agency in question. (Read more about this story at Peter Shankman’s blog or ZDNet.)

The moral: Think before you tweet.

Twitter and the CiscoFatty: In 2009, a twitter user received an offer from Cisco. The user responded by sending the following tweet: “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” A “channel partner advocate” for Cisco Alert saw the tweet and responded. And, thus, another internet sensation is born. We’re not sure whether Cisco rescinded the offer or not — we’ve seen it reported both ways — but regardless, the Internet won’t soon forget the CiscoFatty fiasco.

Lesson #1: Put best, perhaps, by Helen A.S. Popkin in her article on MSNBC: “Never post anything you wouldn’t say to your mom, boss and significant other.” (I’ve heard others use “grandma” in place of “mom.” I guess they are assuming grandma isn’t as hip or accepting as mom!)

Lesson #2: You may think what you say won’t get back to your boss because he/she doesn’t follow you. Think again! Viral is the name of the game online, and it doesn’t take much to stir up trouble!

And those are just two that turned high-profile. I’ve heard too many other similar tales from colleagues. Like the one about a person who went to a conference, represented herself as an employee of a company those she was there on her own and not a company rep, got drunk during an official conference event, and tweeted about it. She was fired.

Or the girl who updated her Facebook status to reflect her true feelings about her job and her boss. She, too, was fired.

My point? I’m willing to bet every one of these people thought they were “too smart” to fall victim to social media gone bad. Yet, they all did. And the fact they did so will live on — forever — thanks to the Internet.

So I think a few lessons bear repeating here:

  1. Always be aware of what you’re saying and think before your fingers start flying on the keyboard.
  2. Don’t assume your Facebook status updates won’t go beyond your friends. (Screen grabs are a great – and evil – thing.)
  3. Approach social media with this mantra in mind: Never post anything you wouldn’t say to your mom/grandmom, boss or significant other.

Actually, now that I think about it, these rules probably should apply to not only the social media realm, but also to any (in-person) networking situation as well.

Have your own tales of Social Media Gone Wrong? Share them below.

Robin Ferrier is the editor of What’s Next, Gen Y? and Communications Manager for the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. She is also the President of the Capital Communicators Group; co-chair of the Marketing Committee for the Tech Council of Maryland; and Chair of the PR Committee for the Gaithersburg Book Festival. She has inadvertently become a frequent career / professional / job hunt resource for friends and colleagues due to a career path that has included five jobs in 12 years.

Personal Branding and Your Online Persona

May 4th, 2010 ::

by Patti Nuttycombe Cochran

Image: emdot / marya, Flicker Creative Commons

You need to be vigilant 24/7 on all sites where you have a presence, profile… or where you’re adding “interesting commentary or banter” publicly on friends or colleagues’ sites.

I know it’s cool to engage in “exhibitionist-speak” on Facebook or Twitter. You know what I’m talkin’ about: those self-absorbed status updates that completely don’t matter to anyone but the author?? Or posts from those whom I’m sure feel superior or RELIEVED when they’ve just blasted off on someone on some social media platform.

Stop thinking these are private sites where you can have a one-on-one confidential conversation or exchange. Always assume that whatever you post is visible, viewable, usable and confusable by the entire free world! When you operate under this assumption, your posts will be less hip, cool, clever and funny and boomerang-like…

But a lot more acceptable, safe, generic and worry free. With the fabulous internet, things are out there forever — good or bad. There are no make-goods, “ooops-I-didn’t-mean-its”! It’s forever. Always. Undeniable. Attributable.

So, with that annoying fact out in the open, here are a couple examples of career-ending blunder statements that one can’t recover from. I offer these in the spirit of helpfulness. Translation: DON’T MAKE THESE MISTAKES!

Career Ending Social Media Status Updates…

  • “I hate my client” – Never use the word HATE! Anywhere… but certainly not on a Social Media site! And, HATE and CLIENT in the same sentence???? What are you thinking? Goodbye direct deposit from your paying gig…
  • “I don’t want to deal with anymore STUPID customers” — Okay, this is only SLIGHTLY less incendiary than the example above! Goodbye direct deposit from that paying gig, AND you’ll never work for any of those clients, either!
  • “Supposed to be working” — now THIS ONE seems benign, right? I hope you answered No. Yet, Twitter is riddled with this dumb comment! Clients, bosses and others who might be depending on you read this and think, “Wait a minute… we’ve got a project to finish… he/she’s on our dime…”
  • Updating Facebook when you’re supposedly ill. This one’s particularly stupid, too, when the person has “friended” their Boss on FB! Nice. So all through the day that you’re “illin’”, the boss is watching your updates about the fun stuff you’re doing. Makes the next day at work interesting!

Remember: don’t put your brand AND your relationships at risk. Be extremely self-aware and DEFENSIVE of your image: In the flesh AND online!

Patti Nuttycombe Cochran is Vice President-Client Services Consultant at Right Management, a global provider of Career Transition services and consulting expertise on Talent Management, Leadership Development, and Organizational Effectiveness. Patti is an avid networker interested in building the region’s business and philanthropic communities.

Your Personal Brand: An Individual Evaluation

April 16th, 2010 ::

by Patti Nuttycombe Cochran

As a result of my recent offer, several courageous readers requested a Personal Brand Evaluation and the process was interesting and happily very positive!

Let’s take the example of Glen Montgomery, a passionate video editor from Ohio who submitted himself and his online persona for a Brand Evaluation. After googling, twittering, yahoo-ing, myspacing, facebooking and Linking-In…here’s my evaluation:

Glen’s image is consistent and passionate. There’s a terrific alignment within his multiple profiles.

His Twitter following is impressive and he incorporates multimedia links which give his profiles depth. His passion for filmmaking, editing and the world of film is palpable on all sites. I came away really admiring his drive, passion and interest in his profession!

His photo image on Google and Yahoo and LinkedIn is a wonderfully happy photo. Facebook, while a different photo image, shows someone fun-loving yet is “safe” from judgment or scrutiny by recruiters or employers. He’s used filters well, so that what he chooses to keep private is kept private. Smart!

A couple thoughts:

  • Glen’s LinkedIn page was updated one month ago… perhaps more regular updates would keep his name active in LinkedIn’s status updates thereby creating a more prolific impression.
  • He also describes himself as “trying to find himself in the world of post-production.” This description is wistful, but suggests desperation or someone who’s seeking. A bolder description that claims his ability and passion would be stronger as an overall description.

But, generally, Glen’s done a terrific job of presenting himself to the world as a focused, passionate individual with clear direction.

I hope Glen will stay in touch with us — and perhaps even submit some blog posts for us talking about his quest to “find himself in the world of post-production” so we can see if he’s successful.

Patti Nuttycombe Cochran is Vice President-Client Services Consultant at Right Management, a global provider of Career Transition services and consulting expertise on Talent Management, Leadership Development, and Organizational Effectiveness. Patti is an avid networker interested in building the region’s business and philanthropic communities.

Building Your Personal Brand, Part 2

March 18th, 2010 ::

by Patti Nuttycombe Cochran

branding irons

http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonbleasdale/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

Welcome back! Where did we leave off? Oh, yeah, I was driving home the Power of Your Personal Brand and the importance of your Personal Brand’s messaging being clear and consistent, and positive.

Why? Check out this YouTube video. There are some mind-blowing statistics included in this video that one cannot ignore.

Forget “Big Brother”… the WORLD is watching you! One must be vigilant … even militant … about protecting one’s Personal Brand. But don’t get paranoid; get PROACTIVE! Having a constant awareness of one’s Personal Brand offers an on-going opportunity to:

  • define ourselves…
  • redefine or reinvent ourselves…
  • evolve…
  • enhance…
  • add value…

All these actions are POSITIVE and allow us to be nimble and involved in the development of our Public Image. Taking control of your Personal Brand involves identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive! Ask yourself: What makes me stand out? What’s my greatest strength? What’s my most noteworthy quality?

Then, reflect on this list of qualities and ask the legacy question:

What do I WANT to be known for?

This should take some serious contemplation…good luck and enjoy the powerful introspection and reflection!

NOTE: Want some advice on what I see when I look at the brand you’ve created for yourself online? Email your name and links to your online presence to our editor. She’ll forward the information to me and I’ll choose one or two of you and do a Personal Brand evaluation for you in an upcoming blog post.

Patti Nuttycombe Cochran is Vice President-Client Services Consultant at Right Management, a global provider of Career Transition services and consulting expertise on Talent Management, Leadership Development, and Organizational Effectiveness. Patti is an avid networker interested in building the region’s business and philanthropic communities.

Building your Personal Brand…

March 4th, 2010 ::

by Patti Nuttycombe Cochran

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenneth_hynek/ / CC BY 2.0

Your Personal Brand…when does it matter? Oh, only on days ending in “Y”!!!

Yes, you must consider your Personal Brand 24/7. Brand is synonymous with Character. And not to get too philosophical here, but Character is the ONE THING you build in this world and TAKE WITH YOU to the next. Okay, let’s avoid the afterlife debate and focus on the importance of one’s Personal Brand.

What do you want the world the think about you?

Do you have an “elevator pitch” to describe and define who you are and what your value proposition is? Ask your closest friend to describe you…that can be an enlightening activity!

Personal Brand is the new age term for Reputation. It takes a long time to build a good reputation (Personal Brand) and only one simple slip to ruin it. As “old school” as this sounds, you must take your reputation (Personal Brand) extremely seriously. YOU are the CEO of YOU. Your ultimate success rides on your Personal Brand being pristine…above reproach…consistent…and UNDERSTOOD.

Are you paying attention to your actions, however minor or seemingly irrelevant? Take Facebook. You may have heard this piece of advice before, but with the number of stories of people who ruined their personal brand thanks to this social networking gem, it bears repeating: What does your profile say about you? Would your Grandparents be proud or shocked by what they learned about you on Facebook? You can still enjoy sharing information about your life and activities, but first you’d better learn about using filters so you can be strategic about whom you allow access to your galleries and posts. And even then, you’d better be careful. Because mistakes happen, privacy filters may malfunction, and you never know when the wrong person may see something meant for another’s eye. (Don’t believe me? Check this out.)

Google yourself. It’s not an egomaniacal thing to do…it’s “recon”. Find out what’s “out there” about you! You need to know what you don’t know!

You need to be uber self-aware of your actions and their impact on your Personal Brand whether you’re at work or enjoying personal activities.

Be sure your Personal Brand messaging is clear and consistent, and positive. And stay tuned for future posts by me with more information about how to create a positive Personal Brand...

Patti Nuttycombe Cochran is Vice President-Client Services Consultant at Right Management, a global provider of Career Transition services and consulting expertise on Talent Management, Leadership Development, and Organizational Effectiveness. Patti is an avid networker interested in building the region’s business and philanthropic communities.