The 360 is a widely-used human resources and leadership tool in which a range of colleagues, friends, and family offer their different perspectives on your skills, talents, and character, to provide a 360-degree view of who you are. Not without its limitations, it nonetheless helps us begin overcome our inability to see ourselves as others see us.
Social media expert, Alexandra Samuel, proposes that we regularly conduct an online 360 in order to evaluate our online personas. Although she rejects the distinction between Online Life and IRL (In Real Life), Alexandra does recognize that “online, the human struggle to honestly understand our own strengths and weaknesses is intensified by the newness of our online customs and interactions.” And the stakes are high:
Just like your offline personality, your online persona now forms a significant part of your professional identity. Understanding how those personas align, diverge, and complement one another is crucial to ensure your professional effectiveness, on- and offline.
Her solution is to send the following questions to people who know you both on- and offline, as well as to people who know you online only, and ask respondents to provide a scaled assessment (1= never, 10=always):
- Is polite and respectful in their emails, tweets, or other online communications
- Provides useful or informative content in their online contributions or comments
- Makes effective use of their time online, and responds to online communications (e.g. emails, messages), comments (on blogs or in Twitter mentions) and feedback in a timely and effective way
- Provides constructive feedback and generous appreciation in their online comments, replies, and other online communications
- Is transparent about their relationship to or financial interest in the brands, companies, and products they discuss online
- Makes thoughtful and appropriate choices about which on- and offline communications channels to use for different purposes or in different circumstances, and inspires or encourages others to do the same
- Builds online relationships that support their own work and their organization’s goals
- Is an online leader within their field
Average your score on each question, analyze where you are strong and weak, and then compare with your offline persona. Are you strong on leadership but weak on politeness? Do you simply produce or do you also engage constructively? And compare this with your offline persona. As Alexandra concludes:
If your personas diverge — if you’re known for your personal touch offline, but come off as a bull in a china shop online — you may want to think about how you can translate your face-to-face interpersonal skills into your online relationships, or conversely, how to speak so that the authority and expertise you hold online is also recognized by the colleagues who work down the hall.