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Be Careful, The Mic is On
Be Aware of Your Employees’ Online Presence

February 2015
Colleen McKenna

Colleen McKenna

The mic is on.

We know what happens when someone forgets the microphone is on and makes a controversial, rude or ignorant comment. It’s fodder for the media and does particular damage to a person or company. No doubt, it’s embarrassing. It’s not the mic’s fault though, right? It’s a reflection on the person wearing the mic and simply not realizing they had to turn it off.

Online how people look, what they do or do not say often spreads quickly. Mostly though, people are more under the radar than they should be. They are concerned they will say the wrong thing, so they say nothing. I’m not sure that is any better. Being under the radar has negative effects on business. Weighing the balance between out-of-control and the under-the-radar should be a part of company on-boarding, coaching, team meetings and off-boarding.

The conversation is changing, finally. Employers are taking notice that their employees’ online presence, activity and influence may affect their organization. This is less about millennials tweeting and logging onto Facebook throughout the day and more about evaluating how employees showcase their professional online presence.

Many employers say their employees are their most valuable asset. They talk about the value of human capital and culture. And, now, employers are beginning to realize their employees may actually be the key to unlocking new business opportunities and great talent.

In his book, “To Sell is Human,” Dan Pink explains how everyone, to varying degrees, sells. For most organizations these days the selling process is more challenging than ever and tapping employee networks is critical. In “The Alliance,” Reid Hoffman says that we’ve moved from an Information Society to a Network Society and leveraging the networks of employees often makes the difference between finding the next great hire, uncovering new sales opportunities, finding potential strategic partners and exposing more people to the organization or not. It’s the upside of doing business in a social world. The greater the visibility, the greater the opportunity.

I doubt any CEO will disregard this potential. Few employers inquire about their employees’ networks. Outside of sales and development, networks are not necessarily seen as currency. Now, every team member is a professional brand, and, in turn, represents your organization’s brand. Don’t miss this. Employers don’t own an employee’s online media accounts, including LinkedIn. Employers should talk with and coach their employees on how to best develop and leverage their online presence.

This dialogue is critical and should be a part of internal training and communication.

If you have not logged into LinkedIn and accessed how your employees look, you should. It’s an exercise well worth the time. If you work for a large company, start with all client-facing employees. Do their LinkedIn profiles look “good”? A few key indicators include:
• A good professional photo
• Correct job title
• A description under each job position especially their current job
• Links back to your company website
• Volunteer experience
• Education (tap into those alumni networks)
• Projects
• Certifications
• Honors and Awards

CEOs may assign this task to their marketing or human resources person. This makes sense, if they are truly, proficient. CEOs, don’t be fooled on this one. I recommend reviewing this assessment online with whoever has been charged with the exercise. Seeing is believing, and it provides better context. Review and determine if you think your employees are best representing your organization. This exercise is not to throw anyone under the bus but to move you and your organization forward in a social world.

Seriously consider each of the departments in your organization. How do sales, marketing, customer service, human resource and operations look on LinkedIn, in particular? How do they look next to your competition? Let’s move beyond out-of-control and under-the-radar and move toward leveraging the power of a social world. I95

Colleen McKenna is a LinkedIn specialist, a speaker with Vistage International, and the principal of Intero Advisory, helping business professionals use technology to grow their business. Contact her at or www.linkedin/in/colleenmckenna.