Monday, December 13, 2010

Should you friend or follow you co-workers?

We enjoy their company at work because they make the day go by faster. They are there for us when we need to borrow office supplies or a shoulder, but should we take our professional relationships outside of the office and into the social media realm? In this day and age when twitter, facebook, and other social media are a staple in our everyday and professional lives, the question of "should you friend or follow your co-workers and bosses?" is bound to come up. I myself have been asking this question. I'm very close to my manager at work and the company has a great familial atmosphere. With all that, I still don't want the line between my professional self and my regular self (via the net) to get crossed.

Think about it. How serious would you take your supervisor if you saw a picture of them chugging at last year's Christmas party? Or how serious would they take you as you live-tweet The Real Housewives of Atlanta?

Yes social media is there for us to connect to each other, but you have to choose how and where you want to connect with people. Especially people you work with. Below are some tips on following your comrades at work.
Tip #1: If you are going to send a friend request to a co-worker, create a profile for them and set your settings accordingly. The best thing about Facebook is you can create limited profile settings and groups. I have one for family and co-workers. Sometimes I just don't want them to see some of the things I post or have access to what others write on my wall. And thus, I act accordingly.
Tip #2: Be aware of who follows you on Twitter. If you are smart, you have set up your Twitter account to alert you when someone follows you. If you are even smarter, you have created a profile for business and another for everything else a la "You VS You the Brand on Twitter." The moment you find out that someone from your job is following you, that is the day you should decide whether or not to censor your tweets.
Tip #3: Want to connect with your co-workers without messing with the integrity of your "hilarious" late night tweets? Linked-In and other professional social media sites were created for exactly that purpose. You'll still be able to see what they are up to and send them messages, but it is through a platform built specifically for professionals.
Tip #4: You've connected with your work family. You've created your separate settings for them. Now what? KISS. Keep it Short and Simple. You don't want to be that overbearing Twitter follower or obnoxious Facebook friend. Maintain the professionalism, even from the comfort of your own computer.
Social media is a fun tool to connect and communicate with people, but when what you're communicating on the internet takes a shot at what you want to communicate in your career, you have to really decide if it's best to communicate and connect with those from your job. If you're going to do it, you should at least know how to do it in the most professional way possible. With privacy settings on Facebook, professional sites like Linked-In and applying simple rules when you connect, you can set the tone of professionalism online.

The Unemployed [but Empowered] Entrepreneur

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