Mixing Personal with Professional – Can it be done?

cross the line

Recently I was asked this question:  I’ve always tried to keep Facebook private and personal and not let it cross over into LinkedIn or Twitter…you know, keep my personal stuff separate from my professional side.  What do you think?”.

Well for many of you you’re not going to like my answer.  You can’t keep them separate.  Technology and social media have evolved such that your life – personal and professional – is open for review by any one at any time.  It’s as simple as that.  If you party hard and post pictures on Facebook, accompanied by drunken tweets, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way professionally…even if you think your profiles are personal.  So what should you do?

  1. Accept the fact that if it’s online anywhere, it’s everywhere.
  2. Show and post only what you’re comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper the next morning…or having to explain to your parents, friends, spouse, etc.  If you’re not comfortable seeing what you’ve done on the front page of the morning news, don’t post it.  Better yet, don’t do it.
  3. Definitely bring your personal side into your professional.  People like to do business with people.  What’s more, people like to do business with people they trust and find interesting.  Don’t be afraid to tweet or blog about a tough workout if you love fitness, or the 200 game you bowled Saturday night.  Those are the details that make you approachable and help build your overall street cred.
  4. Focus on the facts when you’re tweeting, Facebooking, or placing something on LinkedIn.  If you oppose Healthcare Reform, site facts and statistics that make your case.  Don’t take to name calling as it discredits you as a person.  As they say, it’s hard to argue with facts.  Keep the emotion out of it.  If you believe we should have a flat tax in the U.S., do some digging and find some good articles that support your view and share them.  The more thoughtful and educated of a comment you share, the more likely people will entrust you with their thoughts, comments, feelings, or business.

Be who you are.  Just be conscious that not everything is noteworthy, news worthy, or worth sharing with the world.  There are many things in life that should remain private to you, your friends, and your families.  It’s up to you to ensure that privacy level remains intact.

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