It seems you can’t read anything the days without the obligatory story about the dangers of your digital fingerprint. Young kids posting pictures of their private parts on Facebook (god I’m glad I grew up when you still had negatives you could destroy), or posting some other picture or comment online that will be sure to prevent them getting a job in the future.
Clearly both of these are relevant and true risks of posting without thinking. Like most employers, the first thing I do when reviewing resumes is to do a google search, and scroll past linkedin to find out a little bit about the real person. I’ve also taken a great deal of pleasure when someone (generalisation here but it’s usually someone who should know the risks such as a “community manager” or similar) from an agency who one day wants some of your investment decides to tee off on your latest campaign. Unfortunately for them, whilst I often struggle to remember to pack snacks for the kids when heading out to the park, I never fail to forget someone who could be so stupid.
So it’s true, that for gen y or whatever the latest batch of ‘indestructibles’ is called, and anyone else who likes to think of themselves as a keyboard warrior, a bad digital fingerprint can genuinely be a Liz Lemon-esque deal breaker.
However, I don’t think enough is made about how beneficial digital fingerprints can be.
I recall sitting down for a piccolo with a man I am really inspired by, the omnipresent Steve Samartino who said to me something along the lines of “my blog has come to generate more opportunities than any of the other work I’ve done”. Now those familiar with Steve (not Sam Artino as his twitter handle may lead you to assume) will be aware of the amazing breadth of successful work he does, from client side, to agency planner, and more broadly, entrepreneur and start up king. As we continued to talk I expressed my fear that I didn’t really have anything that inspiring to write about, or couldn’t share the confidential stuff I was working on. However, Steve encouraged me to back myself and share the thoughts that I had, as if he found them interesting over a coffee, surely someone, somewhere, bored on the interwebs may find my ramblings similarly interesting.
So I started. And I loved it. Granted, as life with two kids, an intense job, a desire to stay fit and generally living day to day, I haven’t done it as much as I would like recently. However, if I’m honest, all the excuses are a cop out. There’s always five minutes to get some thoughts down on the iPad. And as Steve recently reminded me, writing is just like exercise: the more you do, the easier and better it gets. So, much like my need to improve my triathlon swim, this is something I just need to commit to.
So back to the title of this entry, and the opening paragraph. Perhaps not enough is made about the potentially positive impact of sharing your thoughts online. If you have a positive digital fingerprint, as Steve suggested, there is a lot that can be gained.
This really struck home for me last week when I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kristian Manietta. Kristian is a phenomenal triathlete and, amongst other things, run elite training squad for those looking to improve their Tri performance. Perhaps more importantly, he is currently working on a charity ride this summer, riding from Bondi to Noosa for an amazingly great cause of sustainable water for Cambodian families.
Now Kristian and I had never met in person, but a quick text and we agreed to meet up for a ride to talk about the charity ride and how I could potentially help. Now, usually the thought of spending an hour on the bike together with someone you had never met could be a bit daunting, with a lot of uncomfortable silences. However, as soon as I rode out and met Kristian, I already felt I knew him. Why? Simple…research: Twitter, Instagram, websites etc. What’s more, as a switched on guy Kristian had done the same, and it really blew me away as we were talking on the bike, and much longer over another piccolo or two, how much he actually did know about me. I was really impressed when he started referencing articles I had written on this blog, not for the ego stroke, but because it showed he had an interest and a similarity of views. How handy is that? When going in to a meeting with someone you can really simply find out what makes them tick, get their views on things and, sometimes most importantly what they absolutely detest, and make sure you tailor your message to this, or if you really think they’re a real douche just cancel the meeting!!
So there it is. In summary, digital fingerprints can actually be really positive. As my dealings with two inspirational men has shown. By writing more, and in turn reading more about others there is a lot that can be gained both professionally and personally. So expect to see more from me from now on.