Friday, February 6, 2009

Professional Etiquette in Facebook

Sorry, folks – LinkedIn is no longer enough. If you want to do business in modern America, chances are you’re going to have to join Facebook at some point. Maybe it’s because you’re participating on a conference panel that’s coordinating content through Facebook, or maybe you joined a professional networking group with a Facebook page. For many people these days, it has to do with finding work – if you’re out of a job and looking for a position, you have to raise your profile both online and off, and Facebook is one very good way to get more visible on the Web.

Many people hesitate to join Facebook because they’re understandably concerned about mingling their professional and their private lives. Fortunately, Facebook is so highly customizable that you can rest assured your potential employers will never see your goofy Halloween photos, and your friends will never be treated to your reflections on business topics.

To see a very informative slide presentation on how to customize Facebook’s privacy settings and make sure your business and private lives don’t intersect, click here. Below are some more rules of thumb for professionals on Facebook.

  1. Keep your profile photo professional looking. Everybody who has access to your page will see the same identifying photo – so don’t do anything too wacky or risqué. More fanciful pictures can go in separate, restricted photo albums.
  2. Less is more. When it comes to biographical information, you can adjust who sees your full and partial profile. However, as a general rule on the Web it’s best not to supply so much identifying information that a complete stranger could track you down if they happened to be able to access your Facebook page. Nobody needs to know what year you were born, what zip code you live in, or other such details that could be used by identity thieves.
  3. Don’t spam. Facebook makes it easy for you to contact your whole network with updates, questions, and comments. Think about who really needs to know the information you’re about to send out and target it only to them. Your friends in the Chamber of Commerce don’t need to know about the bake sale your PTO is sponsoring next week.

Facebook can be pretty intimidating and complicated in the beginning – but once you get the hang of it you’ll see just how addictive it can be as well!

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