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THE DANGERS OF AN ONLINE PRESENCE (though it’s still worth it)


Matt Leverich

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If you're reading this, you know that online technology has allowed us in the turf industry to share good things like tips, tricks and maintenance practices.  But it can also impact your ability to retain your existing position or get that new job. How you craft and manage your online presence can be a boon or a bust to your operation and career. 


FACEBOOK
Posted ImageA hotly debated issue of late is companies asking prospective hires for access to social media such as Facebook, or to like the company or one of their employees so they can see your page. In fact, there has been legislation passed in several states banning it, while most have not ruled. (further details here)

 

Whether or not that is a proper thing to do doesn't matter here. What does matter is how you manage the content of your online presence in case it does happen.

 

Even though your Facebook account is protected to a degree, it is fairly easy to select the wrong privacy settings and allow the public (including a prospective employer) to see your updates. If you are serious about your career, that means retiring from the days of posting about your latest trip to the bar, participating in questionable activities, and other nonsense.

 

It may be fun to share these experiences with our friends, but that is easily overshadowed if it causes problems in your professional life. The world of golf has a certain view of how one should behave and, like it or not, compliance leads to better future opportunities. This point is particularly important for the more youthful among us.

 

"The world of golf has a certain view of how one should behave and, like it or not, compliance leads to better future opportunities..."

 

What should you post instead? While posting the activities mentioned above wouldnt be wise, pictures of you in church every day of the week would be questionable as well, not to mention dishonest. I would say just keep your Facebook page as clean as possible and triple check that your privacy settings are airtight. A good resource on Facebook privacy is here. If you are more interested in how to make this issue work to your advantage, check out some of the research regarding Facebook being an indicator of a good employee. An example is here.

TWITTER & INSTAGRAM
Posted ImageThese micro-blogging and picture-sharing sites have been tremendous in our industry for the sharing of great information. Everyone can utilize them, even if all you do is follow those actively posting. But when it comes to sending out your tweets, be aware that in most circumstances your tweet is publicly available to anyone, and searching for your twitter handle or tweets is very easy to do.

 

What this means is that while it may be fun to commiserate with peers about member antics or turf-care difficulties, it is probably not a good idea. You never know who else out there may see your tweets, especially a potential future employer or even your existing one. The last thing you need in this industry is another reason to get on the bad side of patrons. My recommendation would be to be sure that whatever you tweet reflects positively on you, your club, and golfers in general.

 

...while it may be fun to commiserate with peers about member antics or turf-care difficulties, it is probably not a good idea."

 

MAINTENANCE BLOGS
The value of good and proper communication for superintendents cannot be underestimated.  Arguably more valuable than Twitter, the maintenance blog is an excellent way to alert golfers to the goings-on at your club.

 

However, the most-asked question we receive regarding blogs is whether it should be included on materials such as resumes, websites, and/or portfolios. The answer it depends. Every club and superintendent is unique, so what you include on your blog and how its implemented vary greatly.

 

If your club hosts your blog privately, where only members can view it while logged in to the website, then you have no issues and can freely go about your business. When it comes time to use the blog as part of your career materials for another position, you can pick and choose good posts to include in your portfolio to showcase your communications skills.

 

Posted ImageBut if you use one of the free sites such as Blogger, this is where you have to be careful. Anyone on the internet can easily find your blog and discover that you, for example, had a problem year with your greens last year. Even if you did a great job communicating why an issue arose and fixed it promptly, a future employer doesn't want to see your past blemishes. They want to be impressed that their guy is the best and doesn't have issues, however unrealistic this vision may be.

 

One solution to securing blog content is to ask your club to host your blog on their private server, where only members can view it behind a secure login. If that is not possible, try to keep posts on your public blog to informative, boilerplate materials that help you communicate important tools you use in the agronomic program.

 

If and when an issue arises on the course, NEVER post it on a public blog. Use an email blast or newsletter to the membership to cover the problem and how it is being corrected. This serves a dual purpose you protect your career but you also ensure a larger percentage of your club membership will view your timely communication on the issue before it gets out of hand.

 

"If and when an issue arises on the course, NEVER post it on a public blog. Use an email blast or newsletter to the membership to cover the problem and how it is being corrected."

 

The many positives of an online presence greatly outweigh the dangers. But be careful and cautious at all times with content that may affect your professional life. Its easy to post something in the heat of the moment. Resist, thoughtfully consider your action, and live to fight another day.

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