While compiling a new social media list page, I had a prospect and then thought twice about adding it. This list is a group of professional resources that may be of use to you as a freelancer. Many entries are lesser-known entities but the one I'd like to discuss is....for women only.
Safe Spaces for Women Online
Truthfully, I don't remember if Elpha allows men to join and didn't really give it a lot of thought when I signed up. Sometimes, as a woman, I tend to be drawn to things that are female-oriented. Since this isn't a message board (like Reddit) where posters can rant and possibly cross the lines of netiquette, I thought this might be an interesting blog topic.
My question is, do women, in 2022, still need our own professional spaces?
After more than six months of joining, I can say that Elpha is a safe space for women. Why should safety be a concern at this stage? This article shares some of the dangers that women of all ages encounter when we interact with others on social networking sites, messages boards, and forums.
Keeping it "Professional"
While some sites use moderation 24/7 (or close to it), others are slow to react to online threats about miscellaneous topics. You may be saying 'well just limit viewing to LinkedIn and similar networking sites'. Yes, that's a reasonable solution but here's my story about some of these professional sites.
A while ago, I earned an undergrad degree and of course, I list every credential that matters in selling myself. While this part of the basics, the fact that my profile shows a woman who's a person of color (POC) and can hardly be mistaken for a beauty contestant makes an interesting narrative. I say this because when most see a young(ish) female minority, it's common for them to assume that my skills are limited to clerical work.
While I did this for years, as it paid my bills, I work pretty hard to ensure that my online real estate (and the work behind it) is impeccable. And I'm not alone in this as many Gen-X and early millennial adults may be in the midst of a career change/upgrade. The ongoing navigation of social networks and their effectiveness is something that presents mixed results for many.
Now back to LinkedIn. I've been a member for close to a decade and am familiar with many of the features and a few most people don't know about. However, there's something I'm not quite clear about...
Why the hell do salespeople use this site to aggressively recruit people who have no interest in their MLM schemes?
I've got nothing against individuals who can approach a stranger with a new career opportunity. I can remember the days of generic classified ads in the Sunday paper that stressed: "Earn $$$ Per Month, No Experience Necessary, On The Job Training". My issue is when people have experience or credentials that are focused on a totally different industry, why bother?
More than once people who originally claimed to want online content or copywriting pulled a bait and switch. They take time to build a rapport or create some sense of mystery before sending over their dollar-store presentation. Then they act surprised when I express disinterest. I've even had to block a few people.
My solution for combating this, and this is an ongoing process, is to protect oneself as much as possible. In this current climate, conversations could've gone way south since there are no boundaries as to what a potential client can say. For the past decade-plus that I've been freelancing, I've been subjected to slick remarks about race, looks, or gender.
When both parties are on Skype or another instant message tool, it helps to be in a position to use a screensaver. The downside to this is that unless you're in the business of publicly calling people out, there's often no recourse. If you work on an outsourcing site, problem clients are only banned when there are multiple reports. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg cares if you encountered a scammy client on Facebook/Meta or whatever they're calling themselves these days? Outside of the protocol, we know it takes nothing to bypass the system and start all over again.
Do you think women should strive to create and maintain safe spaces on social media?