These sites are a great way to network, and to spread out your "name" to various businesses/agencies/etc. They encourage professional connections that can boost you up to a top position of power in anyone's chosen field. Personal Websites allow for a person to describe himself or herself in a way he or she may wish to convey to the world. Plaxo allows a person to have a digital rolodex. An easy to use tool that can centralize any contact information, and make it easier to find contact information. LinkedIn is good at advertising a person's professional life, by showcasing work history and business connections. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that can connect businesses with future employees.
As the cliche goes, a tool has the power to create, as well as, destroy. Though each online tool can have a beneficial impact upon a person's career, it is imperative to remember the damage it can do as well Personal websites allow for a person to use his or her creativity and individuality to express himself or herself to the world. This is okay depending on a person's use. Does someone really want their boss to see the status update of how much a person hates his or her job? Or about the amazing drunken night over the weekend, and shocker, he or she called in "sick" to work. Plaxo can be useful, but sometimes you keep personal and professional contacts separate for a reason. All it takes is for a "personal website" you go on to hack into your account and send scandalous links to your bosses. Or if you rush an email and accidentally send that important, confidential email to the wrong person. Lastly LinkedIn, may sound great as a marketing tool...that is until your employer sees that you are looking for another job. Or as a friend of mine found out, this site can be used as a cruel prank that is shared to all professional contacts. A friend of mine received an endorsement for "eating," and I bet you can imagine the confusion any of his bosses may have had. Why not a more professional characteristic? (My opinion is this person was mad/jealous at my friend's success, and used a professional site as a way to attempt to humiliate and demean my friend.)
So with all that information, are these sites a good idea to use or not? I cannot answer that for anyone. Instead, it is my personal opinion, that these tools' abilities to enhance a career outweigh the risks involved. As long as a person is careful about the information put out there on these sites, I see the positive potential these sites can have. I will continue to use these sites, but will be mindful to keep personal information separate from my professional information. Just as some people have professional laptops and personal computers, so must the information stored be