Connecting the Dots
The new professional perspective: how to be yourself and successful in the social media age
Coming out shouldn't be a career-killer. But many talented professionals are reluctant to disclose personal information at work and online for fear they might be fired or rejected by prospective employers. Now there's a social network that wants to change all of that. dot429 was launched just under two years ago with a global mission to bring LGBT professionals together with their workforce allies. But discrimination remains a challenge and, for better or worse, LGBT professionals don't live in a bubble. New York City-based social media strategist Christopher de la Torre caught up with CEO Richard Klein, Brand Ambassador Ryan Young, and Founding Member Pichet Ong, to see what dot429 plans to do about it.
Connextions: How is dot429 connecting LGBT and Ally professionals around the world?
Richard Klein: dot429 caters to the LGBT community, providing a safe space for out employees to connect for potential job opportunities, network on behalf of clients---even find like-minded friends. We strive to enhance the reputation of the LGBTA community. Essentially, we look to break down stereotypes that potentially limit the success and career growth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender professionals. As the "face of gay" changes and people are exposed to more LGBT professionals, an environment will exist where we can be viewed as equal in the workplace, employment decision-making, and life in general.
Ryan Young: By having all of us connect we can work openly and support one another. Centralizing our own power base in order to circumvent homophobia in business is exactly the thing that makes us able to work openly and add multiplicative value to each other's careers.
Pichet Ong: Sometimes it's not easy to bring your whole self to work. This can be especially true if you're LGBT. Fear of getting fired, of not advancing or being rejected by co-workers or clients. Uneasiness about drawing attention to part of yourself you feel might make others uncomfortable. But not being open holds you, your company, and the broader community back. Allowing yourself to be who you are makes you better at what you do. It builds stronger relationships with your co-workers and clients. It makes your business stronger. And it makes us all understand each other better.
Connextions: Would it be opportunistic of me to say I like dot429 so much that I'm (almost) ready to leave LinkedIn?
Ryan Young: There are many ways to connect professionally online. We add tighter connections within the LGBT community, as well as conferences and other events that other groups don't offer. Smaller networks best serve segments of our community and provide much needed services. Our idea is that if we can connect as many smaller groups and businesses as possible the multiplicative power of professional relationships will take our community to a greater level of power and equality.
Richard Klein: LinkedIn is a fantastic site, but dot429 adds a unique resource to the LGBT professional's networking kit. It's the ultimate destination to network, connect and engage with other LGBTA professionals. It bridges and connects the LGBTA community with professionals, while also offering editorial that's pertinent to our member base.
Connextions: Privacy is all the rage these days. How does dot429 protect the privacy interests of its members?
Ryan Young: Currently, member profiles aren't public. We'll offer the option to make them public, but the default setting will always be private. We want to highlight the fact that we also have members who aren't LGBT but allies. We're just as protective of their information and will never give access to any partner when it comes to a member's information. We're dedicated to education and highlighting what's happening in the community, but won't share or sell member information.
Connextions: The holy trinity of social media marketing: apps, plug-ins, partners. What types of features can we look forward to?
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