Maximizing Work Power in 2013 – Part I

The Business of Being Social through Social Media

The New Year is finally here and many of us are focused on being the best we can be in 2013, both personally and professionally. As such, my next few blogs will focus on some key things business owners, executives and ‘worker bees’ alike should consider doing to maximize their ‘work power’ over the next twelve months.

This blog discusses the importance of taking advantage of current social media networks to secure your long-term viability in our competitive marketplace and social communities. Let’s face it, whether you like it or not, there is little doubt that social media in its various forms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Instagram, just to name a few, will play a significant role in maximizing your ‘work power’ looking forward.

Many of us, me included, may want to rage against the machine of social media because we don’t get it, don’t have time for it or just don’t want to succumb to the trends of the masses, but deep down we sense that we do so at the risk of missing out on major opportunities for growth and success.

Maggie Ness, cofounder/chief creative officer, Social Media Makers, a Chicago-based boutique firm that specializes in social media and digital content, regards swimming in the mainstream social media pool as mission-critical to maximizing your ‘work power’ in 2013. She says, “Building a positive personal brand via social networking sites is just as important as your reputation ‘off-line.’ Approaching your on-line profiles as a virtual resume helps create an interesting and exciting extension of you in today’s digital world.”

With so many different mediums to communicate and connect, Ms. Ness believes the keys to successfully navigating the vast and oversaturated social media landscape, be it for your business or personal brand, are “Start small, stay smart and have fun — within reason. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t e-mail your boss!” For businesses and professionals that want to be social media-savvy and viewed as thought leaders in their industry, Ms. Ness says the trend is to provide “Interesting and fresh content that’s accurate. It’s all about keeping your followers engaged, enlightened and entertained.”

Of course, there are countervailing challenges and potential pitfalls to playing in the social media space. The most obvious risk for individuals is that you can rarely take back what you put out there, or more problematic (because you have less or no control), what others put out there about you. For businesses, several states including Illinois, Michigan and California have passed laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants and employees for their social media passwords, even in connection with an employer’s investigation into on-line harassment and other improper internet activities. In my employment law practice area, I see a growing number of lawsuits and claims against businesses in Chicago and elsewhere asserting that firing or disciplining employees for ranting or making unflattering comments about the employer on social media outlets violates employees’ rights to engage in activities that are protected under various laws.

In spite of the risks associated with social media, the bottom line however, according to Ms. Ness, is that social media is integral to leveraging better business and personal relationships. Simply put, if you’re not logged in today, you’re not part of tomorrow’s conversation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and should not be considered or interpreted as legal advice, nor is it intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

Lauren Blair

About Lauren Blair

Lauren Blair is a partner at Pedersen & Houpt. A member of the firm's Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Group, Ms. Blair focuses her litigation practice in the areas of commercial, family law, employment law, and state environmental law. In every area of her practice, she thrives on working closely with clients to develop sound end-game strategies and is tenacious about delivering desired results. As a member of the firm's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group, Ms. Blair also counsels large and small corporate clients on employment law compliance, including on-site training for supervisors and non-supervisory employees and drafting/auditing employment policies, practices and handbooks. She also protects and defends employers against federal, state and local employment discrimination claims, and she's president of Goodman Theatre's Scenemakers Board, a group of young, diverse professionals whose mission is to support the Goodman in audience development, fundraising and membership. Her blog titled “Working It” offers a lawyer’s perspective on issues, trends and hot topics in the business community.