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Of course, the topic about navigating your way through social media when having to keep up with both your personal and professional worlds is not anything new. At the same time, however, social media continues to evolve at a very rapid pace. As such, it is vitally important for business professionals, especially those who have to spend quite a bit of time on the Internet, to continually have conversations about where to draw the line when it comes to balancing your personal and professional worlds. Here are a few flexible guidelines I personally follow in a work and home climate that is saturated by networking sites.
- Facebook is only personal. LinkedIn is professional.
Many of my friends, in fact most of them, add co-workers and bosses on Facebook. While I don’t find anything like this wrong in any way, I personally feel as though there should be certain boundaries drawn between our personal and professional worlds. Although I am very close with everyone with whom I work, I prefer keeping our social relations strictly on LinkedIn and, the most social arena of all, in person, whether for lunch, happy hour, or an evening out.
- Although I am allowed to use Facebook in my office job, I never post anything I wouldn’t say to my mother while using company property.
Since my office job requires that I do research online, I am allowed to surf the Internet in any way that I please. In fact, we are encouraged to use social media as a promotional tool while on the job. I usually only “check” personal stuff on Facebook, but when it comes to adding a note, writing a personal message, etc., I seldom do it, and when I do, I only post things my mother or other adult figurehead would approve of. After all, if you are using company-owned technology, then anything you do on that computer is they’re property, and it can become a liability later.
- I avoid location tools on social media, like Facebook check-in, unless I am doing something promotional.
I honestly don’t quite understand Facebook check-in. Like so many of the “bad” aspects of social media, it reeks to me of “look at me, look at me!” At the same time, however, tools like check-in are helpful if you really and truly need everyone to know where you are. For example, if I’m throwing a party to raise money for a cause, I use check-in, simply because it alerts people who want to attend at the very last minute (and I have many of those friends). Otherwise, if I want someone to know where I am, I call them. Location tools can be dangerous if you don’t want everyone and their mom to know precisely where you are.
- I’m careful, but I never take social media too seriously.
The most important thing to remember is that you should keep your guard up within reason when it comes to displaying personal information on the Internet. Of course, the concept of privacy is different now than it was pre-social media, but there’s never anything wrong with exercising a little bit of caution, especially when your job or reputation could be on the line. At the same time, don’t go to the other extreme and be too paranoid and take yourself too seriously. If you don’t want others knowing something, don’t post it online. Period.
What are your thoughts on social media and professionalism? Are there any guidelines you follow?
Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.