Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Converging the Professional and the Personal in Social Media

How we brand ourselves online – both personally and professionally – is a topic I’ve been following for some time. There’s no longer a distinct separation between the two – both should show the same values and traits.

Although these aren’t the same social media guidelines I followed in college, I’m finding that there are benefits to this new way of socializing online. I still have fun with social media, but now my friend list has shifted from mostly classmates to colleagues, clients and industry peers. The best part about this is that I get to know all of these people in a completely new way -- I learn more about their personalities and what we have in common outside of work.

Now that I’m interacting on both a personal and professional level, I ask myself some basic questions to help keep my profiles in check:
  • Would I want my boss to see this? – Before I rant or rave about anything, I take a step back and ask myself if the status update, tweet or blog entry will bother anyone. I try to stick to more neutral topics so I can maintain a professional rapport and share content that helps further my image.
  • Who’s following me? – While I’m staying close to the middle of the road content-wise, I still need to be cognizant about who is paying attention to my profile. I try to share thoughts, links and multimedia that will be of interest to the bulk of people who are friends with me.
  • Is what I’m saying useful? – While social networks may have started out as a forum to just talk about ourselves, it’s evolved. I stick to the 80/20 share/self rule, which says to participate in the conversation 80% of the time, and use the other 20% to initiate dialogue. This way I keep audiences well-informed and interested in my updates.
  • Is it me? – Ultimately, social networks are a way to communicate your personality online. I make sure to show others who I am. I include my likes and dislikes to illustrate what makes me unique.
The bottom line is that even though social media is converging the social and the professional, with just a little extra thought it can be both useful and fun!

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