Are You Hurting Your Career Prospects By Ignoring Social Media?

Penelope Trunk recently did an online discussion on Washingtonpost.com about online social networking. True, I am obsessed with her so I am biased, but I thought this piece of advice was particularly relevant and important:

Washington, D.C.: I am an ex-government employee, and very concerned about protecting my privacy. Should I be weary of joining Facebook, or Twitter?

-Shy person

Penelope Trunk: Get over your privacy. It's a new world. You are competing against people who are managing their personal brand online as a career management tool. You can't compete with those people if you are concerned about your privacy. ...

(bold mine)

I think this is really important advice and something people who are scared to set up profiles on social networks need to consider. What are you afraid of? What do you have to hide? I work with people all the time who are reluctant to use Twitter or Facebook because they don't want to use their real name or take a chance on "having their head photoshopped onto someone else's body" (my favorite fear quote ever) by posting a photo on an online profile.

Here's the thing: what they need to be more worried about is losing their jobs to people who know how to use these tools for what they are: essential elements of business today and in the future. Maybe not for everyone, but in certain fields I absolutely believe you are crippling your future career prospects and endangering your current job by keeping your head stuck in the sand and refusing to embrace online social networking. Are you in marketing or PR or advertising and think you can just sit this whole social media idiocy craze out? You seriously should think twice about it.