It's more or less confirmed social networks are here to stay. Like TV, we switch them on at a regular basis. And unlike TV in which you are the passive spectator, this invites you to be an active participant. It's the best lifestyle invention ever, a great avenue to broadcast your ideas, photos, videos and whatever stuff to a ready audience.
But as in every invention, they are merely tools and whether they bring us good or harm would be entirely up to the user. By now, we have already heard so much about how Facebook can ruin your career. And Zul of Skorcareer had put up a great article on this, in which I had the honor to contribute a small part. So do read up if you have no clue on how it can destroy your career.
What I would like to add on is that social networks had in a way acted as your new referee without the need of the employers asking you to furnish one. Traditionally and it's still in practice today, employers ask for references from potential candidates, and they are usually people who had worked with the candidates before. They make the call, ask some questions and that's more or less a background check is completed on a candidate. But now, social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin provide a new dimension of background checks. A status update, a comment, or even a profile picture can tell so much about a person's personality, behavior and preferences. In a way, the world is a scary place to live in now. Privacy is gonna be a coveted pursuit one day.
Yes, there are settings you can configure to have some privacy. Do all you want but I figure the earlier we settle with the fact that our lives are no longer private once we have a social network account and active in it, the better it is. So whatever nonsense you and I had posted in the past, we just have to live with it. And accept this fact early - there is no clear line between your private and professional self. The line is getting blurrier as I speak. So you can't really say, I was writing that as a my personal self and now, from my professional self. It's no longer work like that anymore.
But if you truly value your professional self, you might want that part of you to shine a bit more and there's where the promotion of self through social networks can truly help your career. Seriously, it's a great way to advertise you - and furthermore, its FREE. So if you understand personal branding well, use it smartly to your professional advantage.
Love or hate social networks but they are here to stay and they will be used as one of the best reference points by employers. And you can't stop them.