In a recent conversation with a client the subject of Facebook came up. His angst for the constant barrage of pictures from the supermarket parking lot, inane quiz results his friends were taking, and requests for friendship from high school classmates that he never wanted to reacquaint with, had led him to a decision to abandon his Facebook account. He instead decided to focus his time and attention to LinkedIn for business networking purposes only.
No Facebook account! To some of us this seems a little extreme. Just get rid of the “friends” who are junking up your Facebook experience. But, then you have the issue of how to explain to those “friends” why you are no longer “friends” and how that will impact your real “friendship.” Yikes!
In another conversation the same week, this time with a colleague, the subject of Facebook came up again, only this time under the premise of having two accounts. The question was posed, “Do business people trying to network online, need a business account and a personal account?”
Besides the obvious dilemma of where do you find the time to keep both up to date, it does raise an interesting point. Do you really want every business associate you have seeing the pictures of your kids at the pool and reading that the impending visit from your mother-in-law has your household in chaos?
My colleague tells me posting personal information about her baby has helped her build relationships with several clients. It gives them something besides business to talk about and relate to. Another colleague shared that he keeps business networking focused on Linked In and personal networking on Facebook.
Whatever choices you make on what kind of networking you do and if you keep your business and personal social networking separate, there are several important points to keep in mind. Whoever you do business with (clients, employers, employees, potential clients), its all about building relationships, building credibility, and presenting yourself in a professional manner. Think carefully about who will be reading your latest post on being up till 2:00 AM with your puking toddler or the massive hangover you have on Monday from your weekend of intense partying.
Basic etiquette and common sense should be in the back of your mind as you are posting to Facebook and interacting in the online world. Keep the conversation appropriate to your audience. Put your best foot forward, not your foot in your mouth.