Social media – how to merge private and professional

Social media – how to merge private and professional

I read an article the other day that said professionals should only have ‘professional’ ringtones on their cell. Then mine went off (currently George Thorogood’s ‘Bad to the Bone’) and I forgot about it until now. Next, I read an article about  being careful not to put too much personal info on your social media pages if you want to appear ‘professional’. Right after I had posted the details of my latest crash skiing, complete with raves about my visit to an incredibly good looking doc at the ER.

So which is it? Do we have to be all stuffy and proper if we use social media for work and for pleasure? I don’t think so and here’s why. I want to do business with people that I know and I suspect you do too. Yet in the virtual world we live in we don’t always get to meet our clients and colleagues in person. Facebook in particular gives me a chance to connect personally, something years ago I would have done in a golf game. For those new to social media here are a few tips I’ve learned in the past year or so to help you blend the personal and private to deepen your work relationships without risking damage to your business:

  • Don’t post trivial activities like dropping hubby off at the train station
  • If you really like putting trivial activities on Facebook don’t be-friend anyone you might want to have a professional relationship with
  • On the other hand, don’t use Facebook ONLY for blasting client deals and promotions. That is just as inappropriate as a pic of  baby’s first poopy diaper (SERIOUSLY I SAW THIS ONCE)
  • Post mostly “work like” comments during work hours – it’s more likely that’s when clients and colleagues will be reading
  • Keep most of your tweets work-ish during the day or it looks like you’re a goof off
  • If you’re on LinkedIn write only VERY professional posts. That is a strictly business site!
  • If you’re going to use twitter for something inane to build followers (like my live tweets during American Idol) send a warning tweet that for the next couple hours you’ll be hashtagging wife swap like crazy
  • Don’t ever use profanity. Not even with asterisks.
  • Think about every post before you hit that enter button. In other words, post consciously!!
  • Don’t post the same things over and over to try to get a reaction. This just shows you’re annoying.
  • Always assume that everyone reads ALL your posts, even if you know that’s not true.
  • Add your twitter, facebook, linkedin and other social media to your work email signature.
  • Follow me on twitter to see how it’s done. (just kidding – but do follow me)

Sure, save the bad jokes for your closest friends in private. But if you really want to engage, open up and let people see your humor and a bit about your daily life. I’ll bet it takes the conversations with your virtual colleagues a whole lot deeper.

Here’s a great article from Chris Brogan on personal branding and social media if you want to read someone who REALLY knows what they’re talking about!

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