How To Stay Professional In The ‘Always On’ Business World

08/02/2017 09:12 am ET Updated Aug 02, 2017

By Eric Lifson

The workplace landscape has changed. Social media has given everyone the access to more information than could ever be discovered through real life interactions. For example, a simple Google search will get you pretty much everything you need to know about a new hire. According to a Pew Internet study, 17 percent of employees use social media at the office to learn about and connect with their co-workers. And now that we are all connected, business doesn’t stop after hours. I often tell the various students or young professionals I mentor to maintain a professional image through both their online and offline personas. This will only grow in importance with the rising trend of remote working and increased use of collaboration tools.

I’ve outlined some tips that I have learned through managing my business on how to maintain your personal brand image in an always-on world, below:

Schedule Meetings During Business Hours

Although it now seems that work hours extend far beyond the general 9-to-5, it is important that you schedule meetings with clients, associates, etc. during business hours. Otherwise, you and your associate may come to the meeting with completely different motives. A 9 p.m. business meeting on Friday night may not be a "business" meeting by both parties.

Manage Social Media Carefully      

Before posting that thing you did on Saturday night in a drunken stupor, remember that everyone can see it. That said, there are some things you can do to your social media profiles that can keep you safe from tarnishing your brand.

I suggest cleaning up your profile. Everything -- and I mean everything -- can be accessed. Posting unprofessional content can affect your image, so delete anything controversial from the past. Secondly, read up on the privacy settings of your social media profile. Monitor and manage them appropriately. For Facebook, I highly recommend a private profile that only your real life friends can access.

Keep Business Communications Separate

Using personal communication apps for business purposes presents the issue of bringing private life into work life, and it can lead to tragic results. Businesses often use personal communication apps such as Facebook Messenger, iMessage or WhatsApp to communicate internally and externally. The benefit here is instant communication. However, using these less formal means to communicate can potentially cause the accidental horror of sending an “I love you, babe” message to the wrong business group or client. Using personal communication tools at work can affect the perceived professionalism of your teams and decrease productivity. It may be worth examining separating your communication applications between work and private life. My company uses our own product to create conversation groups regarding specific topics, and others exist. This way, team members know the purpose of the conversation and are able to maintain the proper tone.

Don’t Overshare

Lastly, watch what you say in the office. The space may seem like a relaxed atmosphere with colleagues as friends. However, any one of your comments can be taken the wrong way and have far-reaching consequences. Don’t let the exceedingly trendy open-concept office layouts, ping-pong tables and relaxed dress codes fool you -- you are still working for a company and your professional identity is paramount.

Make the Separation

Creating a distinction between your work life and private life is necessary to avoid embarrassing mishaps that could potentially lead to extreme consequences. Make sure you are aware of how personal communication applications are a threat to your image, and monitor your online presence as if your grandmother were watching.

Note: Forrest Herlick contributed to this article.

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Eric Lifson is Skrumble co-founder and marketing guy with expertise developing strategic marketing initiatives for world-class tech, FMCG & retail brands.

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