By Callie Lehman
Everyone is aware of the concept “it is not what you know, it is who you know.” But we must not forget that it is also “who you know and what they are saying about you.” Networking is extremely beneficial but it can have risks. The more people you know, the more opinions are formed about you. Now, I am not saying do not network, but I am saying be aware of what you put out there. Social networking tools such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the like can be great mechanisms for creating relationships; however, they may also lead to the destruction of relationships.
Take Facebook: although it can be an advantageous social networking tool, most facebookers use the site to post pictures, write inside jokes on friends walls, or create personal status-updates; most people do not use the site in a professional manner. So, when “friending” potential employers or even colleagues, you must realize that they will form an opinion on you based on what you do on the weekends as opposed to how you are professionally. And, if a poor opinion is formed, it is pretty likely that opinion will be heard by others in the professional community.
As a professional, you must always be aware of how others will perceive you. This is not to say “don’t be yourself,” but be conscious of the impressions you are making on others. Burning bridges with one individual, especially in the legal community, typically means you’ve just burned bridges with plenty of other attorneys. The moral of the story is: always be respectful and cautious when making connections, whether on a social networking site or face-to-face, because it is likely that connection will be willing to either speak praises on your behalf or they may not have the greatest things to say about you. Always keep in mind “it is not just who you know, it is what they say about you.”