Personal/Professional Profiles: Strike a Balance

March 12th, 2012

Social Networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ have become a large part of our daily lives and identity. They provide a way for businesses and people to expose themselves to all the Internet has to offer. With so many personal and professional networks, it’s important to strike a balance between personal and professional profiles.

If you’re like most small businesses, you probably have a presence on one or more Social Networking services. In order for your online profiles to best represent your company, it’s very important that you are aware of how your online profiles represent your business on a professional level. There are a number of ways you can balance your professional and personal profiles across the vast number of social networks out there. Here are three common ways to manage your profiles.

1. One Profile For All

This is easiest way to manage your presence online: maintain one profile for for both personal and professional networking. With one profile, all of your activity is seen by both your personal and professional contacts, so you must be careful what you say and post. If you use this approach and manage your profile well, you will have a well rounded profile showcasing the best of both your sides. However, if this approach is used poorly it could create an identity nightmare, with a negative reputation on both sides.

If you use this method, many social networks allow you to group your contacts and select what posts each group can see. For instance, when posting a comment or status update on Facebook, click the arrow beside Post. A menu will open with different options regarding who the post will be shared with. You can also press the Custom button and manually enter people to exclude.

On Google+, you can divide your contacts into different circles and share information and posts with those circles. Click the Circles button, and your contacts will appear, along with circles options. Start a new circle, name it, then simply drag and drop contacts into the circle. When you want to post, in the bar under the box where you put the information click +Add Circles Or People To Share With, make your selections, and click post.

On Linkedin, click your name in the top right of the screen, and select Settings. Click Select who can see my activity feed, then select the category that suits you.

2. Separate Personal from Professional

With this method, you maintain two profiles on each networking site you use: one for professional use and one for personal. This is a good approach for users who want to maintain or improve their work-life balance. Sign in to your personal account when you want to post something personal and sign into your professional account when you want to post something related to your business. This is a good approach because it will minimize the chance that your boss, colleagues, or clients will see something you don’t want them to see.

The biggest downside to this method is you will spend more time on Social Networking sites, and will need to keep track of what profile you are signed into when you post something.

3. Use Different Services for Different Purposes

Users of this method completely separate the different networks, using the strengths of the networks to leverage themselves. For example, use Facebook for personal use, and use Linkedin for professional activity. This is beneficial if you want to use one or two sites and don’t have time to keep up to date with all the new social networks.

Whichever method you choose, your goal should be to show who you are while maintaining a balance. Here are some tips on ensuring a balance:

  • Time off from Social Media. It is a good idea to step away from the computer or phone and have face-to-face interaction with people in both circles.
  • Separate Time. No matter what method you choose, it could be a good idea to separate the time you spend on professional and personal networking. For instance, set aside time in the morning for professional-related posts, and time in the afternoon for personal.
  • Use restriction settings. It is a good idea to restrict who can see your information with in different profiles.
  • Think twice before you post, walk away, think again, then post. Remember that everything you put online stays there. Forever. Always take some time to think about what you are about to post. If you are unsure, don’t post it.
  • Practice Social Pruning: With new updates and features to many of the networks, you can delete old posts and junk posts.
  • Be aware of the ever-changing privacy policies and how they affect you.
  • Always have a degree of professionalism. Watch your language, spelling, and grammar. Think: “Will I be embarrassed if my Grandmother reads this?” If yes, then best to leave it off.

With a little effort and knowledge you can set up your profiles to be beneficial to you, bringing out the best you can be. If you would like to know more about balancing your Social Network profiles or Social Networks, please contact us.