I first heard about the concept of radical transparency from the book of the same name. If you haven’t yet read this book, you need to. It offers a good model for deciding how open you want to be on the social networks. This is important to consider BEFORE you start taking part in social media.
(Not that you can’t always increase your transparency, though it is more difficult to throttle it back once you’ve shared more than you are comfortable with.) It’s important to understand your own personal sense of privacy and how that might be impacted by regular participation in the online networks.
I consider three levels of participation in the social media space. The first is oblique, which means you don’t really share much about yourself at all. You’re kind of a social media introvert. You might visit networks and read, but you don’t participate or share a lot about yourself. That’s one end of the spectrum.
The middle of the spectrum is someone who shares judiciously; with a plan. This might be someone who is comfortable sharing details of their professional life, mostly, but less so about their personal- or vice versa. (I guess this would depend on your profession, maybe…)
The other end of the spectrum is someone who shares everything all the time. This might include instances of too much information. It certainly is difficult to ‘erase’ any kind of negative sharing, so adopt this position widely, especially if you are planning to be involved with social networks on a more professional basis. I have worked with companies who routinely Google potential employees; and more than one once, a top candidate has dropped out of the running due to data found from social networks.
My favorite example of all time would have to be the applicant who said she was working so hard at her current job and was incredibly dedicated- but a quick online search turned up dozens and dozens of MySpace and Facebook pictures- all captioned with variations of “sitting here at work, with nothing to do.”
She didn’t get the job.