Friday, June 6, 2008

Facebook Warning: Beware of the Profile Photo You Use

I really shouldn’t have to write this post because of how strongly I’ve warned about watching what you put up on social media networks. Yet when I went to “friend” a rising college sophomore, I discovered that he had an idiotic profile picture on his Facebook account. (An unseen person’s hand is squishing his mouth into a weird shape.)

I quickly sent him a message – I did NOT embarrass him by writing on his Facebook wall – that he must change the photo immediately. I explained that Facebook is becoming a business relationship site in addition to a social relationship site, and he cannot afford to alienate future business contacts with his juvenile mug shot. (Note that I’m talking about his profile picture. If he wants a goofy picture in his photos elsewhere on his Facebook page, that might be okay depending on the picture.)

And only yesterday morning in a consult with Mary Pat Kavanagh of did I learn how very much a business relationship site Facebook can be. I’m not going to try to impart here even a tiny bit of her extensive knowledge. Instead I’ll just say that I didn’t appreciate how important it is on Facebook to create personal relationships first that can then lead to business relationships.

Later I had a conversation with a professional who doesn’t have an email account. She argued that online social media networking will create young people who can’t socialize with real people. In reply I talked about how social media expert Erica O’Grady ( believes that successful social media networking demands real-world relationships.

O’Grady’s premise is that you must go out and meet the people in person that you have met online – whether that be at a conference or a speaking engagement in your hometown or a community service project. It did take me a little while to wrap my head around this concept. Then I saw how right she is.

Now O’Grady also talks about being the purple cow in the room – for example, how she dyed her hair the color pink before going to a conference of techies in order to motivate people to start a conversation with her. While I understand this concept, I still think that your Facebook profile picture has to be a good picture of you and not an idiotic picture. Because, truthfully, who would even recognize you at a conference if your profile picture is of you with your mouth screwed up all funny?

Anyone disagree with me? Think that it’s okay to have an idiotic picture on Facebook even if down the road you plan to use Facebook connections for business purposes? Leave a comment below. I’d love to discuss this.

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