Women's LeadershipOver the years I have had the opportunity to speak to groups of all shapes, sizes and geographic locations. I’ve spoken to bank CEOs, marketing officers, retail bankers and IT administrators, local business people, geek girls, friends and colleagues.

But my favorite group to address and work with is students, as I will be doing this March when I participate in the 2013 Leadership in Action program organized by the South Shore Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Business Connection Steering Committee.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of addressing a room full of high school students about “creating an online persona with social media” is daunting. As when I’ve addressed students at Wheaton College on a similar topic, I feel like I am walking straight into the lion’s den. These students – sophomore and junior students attending high schools within the South Shore – have grown up in a largely social world, where services like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have always been part of their day-to-day lives.

And I’m going to try to tell them how to create their online persona? Can’t say that I don’t like a challenge.

As when I’ve spoken to students in the past, my goal will not be to tell them what they should, or shouldn’t, do. Instead it will be to look at examples of what people have done online and what the consequences of those actions, have been. And, unfortunately, there are an abundance of examples to choose from – from a teenager arrested after posting on Facebook that he was driving drunk to the bank intern busted for calling in “sick” to the PR executive who insulted a client in just 140 characters – mistakes are being made everyday, always in the heat of the moment and often by people who should know better.

Of course it’s not all bad news! While there are many cons to living your life online, there are also many benefits, especially for educated, competent and creative individuals who are able to translate their comfort using social channels into real-world experience.

And let’s face it, with a 10 and 7 year old at home, soon enough I’ll be the one trying to tell MY children what they should, and shouldn’t, do online. The idea of which makes addressing this group of students seem like no problem.

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