There were some interesting comments on my last Creative Class post about the value of one’s social media presence and possible positive and negative effects on a career. One of the readers suggested that having two Twitter accounts makes sense – one that publishes professional material and the other is more personal and restricted to family and close friends.
When I deliver speeches on social media, I often explain the difference between social media platforms in terms of your closet. LinkedIn is a grey flannel suit and Facebook is a Hawaiian shirt. It’s important to have both, but if you show up in a boardroom in a Hawaiian shirt you look like a goof and if you show up on a boathouse roof in a grey flannel suit, you look like an ass. As a side note, several people have pointed out that often the guy wearing a bright floral shirt in a boardroom often owns the place, but that might be the exception that proves the rule.
Generally, LinkedIn should have the reserved, dignified tone of a resume but with fewer restrictions on format and length. Good profiles provide lots of search terms and plenty of recommendations. Although my personal profile might have gone too far in this respect. Beyond 50 recommendations takes someone a few exits past “let’s hire this guy” and is careening towards “desperately insecure attention seeker”-ville.
Facebook allows more leeway for frivolity in the form of cheeky update status, personal photos, and non-business links (although, trust me… people aren’t interested in what Hogwarts faculty member you are). There are some downsides to inviting colleagues as Facebook friends. For example:
- Violating work-life separation.
- Constantly have to monitor content to make sure others aren’t tagging you in the vacation pictures you don’t want the guy in accounts receivable to see.
- Appearances of favoritism – why did my boss friend my colleagues and not me?
- “Banter competition” – if Facebook walls become the water cooler, am I putting myself at a disadvantage by not showing up?
- Offending people (maybe a customer or your boss) by not accepting them or putting them on limited profile (if they are paying attention, it’s easy to tell).
What are your guidelines for friending colleagues?