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A person’s social media is essentially an extension of one’s self. Thus, it is crucial that you take a serious look at your social media before beginning law school or becoming a lawyer. But why is social media so important and what should your social media look like? Here are some tips and advice in order to get your social media up to par:
Digital-Social Media Age
Personally, I can still remember when my parents bought our first desktop computer and listened to the dial-up for internet connection. However, the new generation, “Generation Z” (not to be confused with Generation Y/Millennials) has not lived during a time without modern technology, internet, and smart phones. And with these now everyday technological pieces of life, comes instant communication and social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are just a handful of social websites that people utilize. Although there are many great benefits to social media, you also need to be careful of what your online profile looks like.
Bar Passage and Background Checks
I don’t know if you know this yet (and if you are just starting your legal journey, don’t panic!) but in order to be accepted to the bar, every applicant goes through an extensive background check. Unfortunately, I am not just talking about your criminal record. This is called the “Character and Fitness Test” in which a group of legal professionals judge whether or not you are fit to become a lawyer. Most people get through this no problem, but you definitely need to monitor your online profile to make sure you don’t post any red flags.
Although it sucks, people judge other people all the time. Social media is no exception. You are perceived a certain way based off of what your profile looks like. Those perceptions can turn into what people associate you as, depending on the frequency of your posts and how well they know you. For example, take someone who is checking into a club/bar every other night. Although they could be a bartender there or be a very studious and hardworking person, they may be perceived instead as a partier student who doesn’t care about his/her success. Thus, you have to be careful that something innocent may turn into a life-changing post just based off other’s perceptions.
Sometimes, Your Friends and Family Can Hurt You
Personally, I have always tried to keep my social media relatively professional and try my best not to post any offensive material. However, I have had friends and family that will sometimes post things on my wall or tag me in a post (in which I did not ask to be tagged). Usually, they are harmless posts, but I have on occasion been a bystander in raunchier post. In fact, one of my law school friends had a horrific experience involving this very scenario. She was almost denied a position after her (potential) employer somehow got access to her Facebook and looked through her profile. A good friend of hers had posted a comment that some would deem as offensive, and they almost denied her a position because she did not comment on the post in opposition of it. As much as you love your family and friends, make sure they know not to post inappropriate posts on your profile. You can also change your settings to make sure you can’t be tagged without permission.
Think Before You Post
Along with your friends and family, sometimes you might post some things that were less than professional. Of course, there is a reasonableness aspect to your profile. It is a “social” website and everything you post does not have to be strictly business (as long as it is not a business profile). However, you should think about what you are posting before you post it. This avoids 9 out of 10 inappropriate posts. This is simple too: before hitting send, enter, or submit, think to yourself, “Will this offend a good amount of people and/or do I need to post this?” and maybe take a second look at the post.
What To Do
Just because you are monitoring what you say, does not mean you have to completely limit yourself to boring, informational posts. You can (and should) post updates about your life, career, thoughts, and opinions. After all, you wouldn’t be you without all of those things. However, you should be cautious of what you post. It’s all a matter of filtering. Think about it, you wouldn’t want to swear in front of a judge when arguing on behalf of a client. Also, a client is probably less likely to hire you if they think you have a drug or alcohol problem. The best way to do this is to think before you post, ask friends and family to be careful what they post on your profile, and go back and take a second look at your profile. You can also change privacy settings and details if you are extremely worried.
Get a Head-start
Whether you are starting law school soon, getting ready for the bar, or even just want to make yourself more professional, you can always get a head-start and spruce up your social media accounts. It is not hard to make your profile personal and professional at the same time. Also, do not stress out about every post you make. There will always be people who get upset over little things and there will always be (internet) trolls out there trying to rile you up. Setting up your social media just means to set yourself up for future successes by making others perceive you in the best light possible.
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