Nowadays, it’s difficult to explore the Internet and not encounter a social networking or sharing function. With the added factor that many business professionals have a Facebook account, Twitter profile, LinkedIn page, and so on, individuals continue to grow connected online. With the use of social media becoming more and more prolific, the distinction between the professional and personal remains blurry. Stories of the two clashing constantly emerge, whether from managers asking for Facebook passwords or companies monitoring employee Internet use. How do you make sure that your personal life, embodied through incriminating images or status updates, never appears in the workplace?
Making the Distinction Between the Two
Unless your professional and personal lives are virtually the same, the life displayed through your social media pages are probably best kept away from your place of work. The following steps can help you keep business and personal separate online:
- Look for Yourself
Before making any changes, you should first get an idea of where your professional and personal lives collide. Perform a search on your name and any variations – does anything surprising appear? Is there any that may cause uncomfortable questions in the future? If so, this may be an indicator that your personal and professional online presences may need some work. Make sure that you are constantly
- Restrict Who’s Watching
While nothing is ever truly private on the Internet, there are ways to keep your personal life as restricted as much as possible. If you want to keep your personal social media out of the workplace, one step is to control those who have access to your accounts. Make sure you understand the privacy settings on each social media platform, and monitor those who have requested access to your pages. Avoid adding employees and colleagues as Friends, as this may result in awkward conversations about your off-hours activities.
Another way to keep your two presences separate is to attribute certain accounts to a particular use. Don’t rely on your Facebook profile for both professional and personal use; instead, create separate accounts that are designed for one or another. For example, LinkedIn is typically seen as professional usage of social media, and many business individuals maintain a robust account. Another alternative is Facebook Pages – if you want to stay connected with individuals while maintaining your own personal account, then creating a Page is a valid option.
- Accept Overlap
If you have separate accounts for both your professional and personal lives, it’s highly likely that there’s a certain level of overlap. This is completely reasonable, given that there are probably connections between your home and work life. However, it’s vital to make sure that these separate social media presences keep the distinction clear. Consider the goals of the two, and whether an update on one profile would be acceptable on the other. For example, your professional profiles can display a more in-depth, expert interest in your field, while the personal takes a lighter approach.
- Be Transparent
Avoid attempting to keep your personal life as private and secret as possible: you’ve already compromised this by placing it on the Internet. Instead, try to dissuade prying eyes by keeping your professional presence as open as possible. Not only can you hold dialogues with interested individuals, this will this also allow you to build relationships in a professional manner. Showing your expertise and interest in the industry will display your honesty and transparency, keeping your personal life out of the conversation.