In a report from local Bay Area company and news source, Yahoo! News, there is no doubt that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is cringing at the fact that over 11,000 of her emails will be released next Friday for all the world to see in preparation of her confirmation hearings next week. Which is a great example of why you should never put in email something you wouldn’t want said on the evening news.
You’ve heard the advice before, don’t say anything in email that you wouldn’t want your mother to hear. Words to live by for sure. Yet we are all guilty of having sent a quick personal email out from our work email. The best thing you can do is to not use your work email address for personal use because it not only puts you at risk, but also your employer.
But email isn’t the only thing you should be afraid that gets out for all the world to see. Any social presence, whether it’s your Facebook or LinkedIn status updates, your tweets, your instant messages, text messages, a personal blog, Flickr photos or anything you have put out on a social network. If it’s out on a social network, even if you have your privacy settings set to “just friends”, it’s still susceptible to a subpoena, should you find yourself having the misfortune of being part of a lawsuit.
Blogs are another big one to watch out for. If you are writing about family or personal stuff, then you should have it set up that people need a password to access your blog. A C level executive whose name is purposely being withheld by request, had their name Googled before they started a new job in Silicon Valley. Low and behold, their personal blog popped up where it spoke about personal issues that were meant for just family and close friends. Before they started, out of context snippets started circulating amongst employee Inboxes. How sad and what a pain to rectify.
Protect yourself from social vulnerability:
- Set up your blog with a password if it contains personal information
- Set your social media outlets to “just friends”
- Don’t use work resources for personal use (including email or your calendar)
- Limit LinkedIn status updates to professional updates, not personal ones.
- Your Facebook page should be hidden from everyone except for “just friends”
- Practice email etiquette at work by being polite, professional and courteous. Remember email has no tone.
- Start your emails with a professional greeting: “Hi James,” or “Hello Jane” or “Greetings Jim”, not “Hey Jane!” or “Dude,”
- Sign your emails with a polite valediction such as Best regards, Thanks, Kind regards, or Best.
- Although a no-brainer, don’t use profanity -EVER.
- Do not forward jokes from or to your work email address.