The Personal Vs. The Professional = Balance

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How far it too far when you live a life online?

That is a question that so many people ask themselves. Our private lives and personal lives and what is the balance for our online identities.

Rebecca Thorman of Modite talks of this dilemma.

Zeus and I have been engaged in phone warfare. Which also isn’t all that surprising considering that he works for a start-up and now I work for a start-up and well, life is busy.

You will understand this even more when I tell you who Zeus is – that is, Zeus is Ryan Healy, co-founder of both Brazen Careerist and Employee Evolution.

Many of you already know this about Zeus being Ryan, but I felt it was time to announce it beyond my About page because of some recent emails I received from my readers.

I feel I have every right to keep my private life private, but I also feel a strong relationship with my blogging community. My blog and the people who support it are the primary reasons I’m successful today, and so it’s important to me to be as transparent as possible.

This conversation is one I have had many time with new bloggers. How much do I give up online is a common question? Do I put photos up of myself or my children? Do I talk about my schedule?

How transparent should I be?

The reality is you disclose what you want to disclose, that’s just about it. Be careful of posting pictures of your children but find what you can monitor easily and nip in the bud if you have to. I have had to do that myself in the past.

A lot of my professional and personal life are intertwined so I talk about quite a bit and decisions were made with the parents of the children in my life who’s pictures have been posted. However, there are some rules for myself that I follow. This includes that I don’t talk about intimacies of my personal relationships. If I’m frustrated with someone I know personally, I take it to email or the phone. I don’t call them an asshat on the blog. That’s just not cool for my own comfort lever. I don’t get involved in personal disagreements with other bloggers, my current employer or do anything that might embarrass my family although sometimes all these lines are foggy. I’m not going to put my 12-year-old niece’s photo up on my blog in a bikini but I will put up others, always with the permission of her mother.

And I never, ever, ever comment under a pseudonym. (Edited to add, my “handle” is newscoma which is my personal blog.) It’s just not cool for me and I’m the one that has to lay my head down on the pillow at night. And ISPs can be traced. The ‘tubes will make you transparent even if you think you are being sneaky.

Those are rules that have to do with my own personal comfort level.

I’ve said before, there really aren’t any rules in blogging. However, balancing your personal life and your professional life is important. The Internet can be a time suck. Sometimes it’s good to walk away for a little while before you say something that you won’t be able to take back.

One hint of advice I can give you is if you want to post personal details of your life, consider setting up a LiveJournal or Vox account or setting your personal blog and Twitter to private although that may not be enough but it’s at least proactive in guarding your content. Start a separate blog where you can say what you want to say. Set up a new email address that details that blog alone.

If you are starting a brand you want to use in setting your online identity, however, that you hope will follow you on your career path, find your own rules and stick with them. We all have different comfort zones.

Find yours.

Updated: More from Sam Davidson.

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2 Comments

  1. Rebecca said February 10, 2009 | Permalink

    Great post, and thanks for the shout-out. It certainly makes it easier for me to talk about Ryan on my blog since he’s in the space himself. But there is a lot personally that I don’t talk about, and I’m comfortable with that – we all have to have some privacy! 🙂 Thanks again!

  2. Margaret said February 11, 2009 | Permalink

    You are right, it is all about individual choice. Some people are very comfortable and very free with what I consider to be ‘Too Much Information (TMI)’. I think it goes back to – do not do or say or post anything online or in email if you are not comfortable seeing it on the front page of the newspaper or as a headline story on the news.

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