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How Much Do You Need to Share Online to Be Considered “Authentic”?

There’s often a fine line between making your business relatable and offering up too much information. The team at JC Sweet & Co. found this article from Entrepreneur particularly helpful with defining this boundary.

How Much Do You Need to Share Online to Be Considered “Authentic”?

Managing how you are perceived online should be important to us all, from the day you craft your first online profile to the day you log off for the last time. In an age of non-stop information flow and short attention spans, we can’t assume that our online connections are monitoring every post, threading together our online updates into a story that forms the tapestry of our lives.

Best practices for online positioning of an authentic personal brand suggest asking yourself:

1. What is my thoughtful rationale for sharing this information online?

Despite how much information is online, you reserve the right to keep things private if you choose. Marriage falling apart? Consider the ramifications of sharing this with online connections who could see this and feel hurt that you didn’t confide in them first. Could this news concern your employer who now worries you’ll lose focus on the key project? Or could sharing this news reassure your online contacts that the reason you’ve been distracted and short-tempered was not because of the upcoming business acquisition, but rather a personal matter?

2. Does sharing this hurt or help my position?

Think about short-term and long-term implications and unintended consequences. For instance, sharing photos of yourself smoking marijuana might be acceptable if you are an adult in a state where it has been legalized, but is it the image you want your friends, colleagues, constituents to judge you by? Could your investors question your judgment because of generational biases? Or could this attract a new audience, enhancing your business options?

3. Could someone else be hurt or helped by my sharing this?

Imagine you are readying to sell your company and anxiously share that news online. Do your business partners and employees have time to respond to the flood of attention they’ll receive? They might be hurt in the process of sharing your exciting news.

4. Does this post reveal confidential information that could hurt me?

We’ve all been made aware of the technology that scrapes the internet for data that can be used maliciously in the wrong hands. Sharing your intimate thoughts, birthdate and favorite vacation spot could be used by hackers set up fake accounts in your name or corrupt your financial future. Evaluate your online content through this lens as often as possible. Today, research shows that even sharing your phone number can put you and your loved ones at risk of identity theft and fraud.

5. Do I value my privacy more than my social interactions?

Consider this scenario: You post on Facebook that your wife is having risky surgery and ask for your community’s prayers and good wishes. The next week, a job candidate interviewing at your company asks about your wife’s health and status. Creepy? Not really; you put that information out there to be found and discussed. You’ve also made it part of your narrative (who you are as a husband, business leader, team member, project manager, etc). When you choose to share, be mindful that the information can be re-shared, discussed and considered long after you’ve moved onto another topic.

The bottom line is that to build relationships, collaborate, celebrate, learn and grow together, we need to share. To be seen as authentic means you make yourself real and approachable and resist cleansing your social media of all personality, struggle, and conflict.

As the information age moves into the data-as-king age, sharing is important to building authentic relationships. Remember to be mindful and protective of what you share, where and how you distribute your personal information and balance your transparency with your need to be perceived as credible and relatable.

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