Let me put this caveat in place: Normally, I'm not someone who gets their news from TMZ, but the lesson to be learned from this story was too good to pass up.
It seems in the recent Rihanna drama over relationship abuse allegations with Chris Brown, many people are questioning her "face value." Rihanna has been a Cover Girl model for awhile now and the fine folks over at Revlon have decided to run a poll to see if people will be put off from buying Cover Girl products because of recent events. Click here for the whole story.
First let me say, thank god we are not famous people. That's an unanswered prayer from my childhood that I'm perfectly happy getting a busy signal to. Just thinking about the life of a celebrity, they're under constant scrutiny. Everyone knows them, and everyone wants to know their business. When they lose weight, when they gain weight, when they break up or make up, it's all front page tabloid news. That's got to be a rough life to have.
On a smaller scale, I think leasing staffs can probably relate. Have you ever lived on site at a community where you work? You're on the job 24/7. You can't afford to throw the big party you might want to through because if something goes wrong, it's not a sharp reprimand from the office you'll be getting, but potentially losing your job and eviction notice. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows exactly who you are.
To illustrate, I cite this example that I wrote about a few years ago concerning a leasing agent at the property where I was living.
I have a bit a small luxury at the moment. I've just been moved to anew property, and most of my residents don't know me by sight just yet, so shopping goes quicker for me these days. My heart goes out to my own leasing agent, whom I recently ran into in a local "we carry everything" kind of store. By the time I met up with her, she had already come across 3 residents and then myself. Her shopping partner, her brother, was visibly annoyed. It wouldn't have been noticeable to most people, but I know that look because it's the look my own finance gets when a 15 minute trip turns in to three hours because I keep "running into people." That quiet, eye rolling, annoyed in the eyebrows, hunched over the shopping cart, looking overly exhausted look. We parted ways and 20 minutes later, I saw her again. She had run in to 3 more residents. Her brother looked like he would never go shopping with her again. Of course he will, but not without a whole lot of sighing and eye rolling.
I firmly believe that the only way to get in and out of a shopping excursion in under two hours (if you shop where your residents shop, and usually you don't have much of a choice due to geographical limitations and convenience) is to shop like a secret agent. Be Bond. Shop Incognito.
I should take my leasing agent some sunglasses and a trench coat some time. I bet it would make her day.
Our residents watch us a lot, so even when we're off the clock, what we do can negatively impact our community. It's like going to Jr. High again. In a small, judgmental, Midwestern town. When you "make a splash" somewhere, you boss will know about it in three seconds flat. It's one of the burdens that comes with being REALLY good at your job.
And if you think your computer literate residents haven't checked out your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, insert social media platform here, then you're very mistaken. I know they're your spaces, but when they're on the web, you lose the right to say who comes and goes on them to some extent, so before you post those pictures of your 21st or 40th birthday party last week, you might want to think twice. My basic rule of thumb has been the same since high school for anything on the internet. If I wouldn't want my dad to find it, I don't even consider posting it. My dad is pretty net savvy and has a habit of finding things you don't want the man to find. He's a dad, that's what he does. It makes most internet choices a pretty easy call. Think about it this way: would you want your manager to google you? What about your manager's manager?
Reputation management is everything in a society where privacy has been reduced to the minimum amount possible and when you work for a company, you're not only looking at your reputation but also that of your employer. Just like Revlon noticed the reputation damage of Rihanna, your competitors, whether outside your current company or even someone you're competing with for an internal promotion, will also see and exploit the weakness.
Ask someone you trust to look at your current personal online presence and give you some objective and honest feedback. It's worth it not to have your imitation of "leasing agents gone wild" be brought up in the office.