With over 800 million active users compared to LinkedIn’s 160 million, Facebook is one of the largest social networks available today. With versatile, customizable profile pages and privacy settings, it only makes sense to use Facebook as a professional networking platform. However, it’s important to proceed with caution. While Facebook can be an important networking tool, Facebook gaffes can do serious damage to your professional reputation.
So, how do you not end up on Failbook? Some common sense and a few precautions can turn your Facebook into a professional network that will grow your brand and develop a solid reputation for career success.
First, consider how you will interact with your customers and contacts through Facebook. For most freelancers, a Facebook Page is the perfect professional networking solution. Facebook pages are designed to allow businesses and companies to showcase their product or service and to interact with potential customers. The Page allows you to interact with your contacts while keeping your personal profile separate and private.
Second, be selective when adding friends. Quantity is not the same as quality. Business is about relationships. Take the time to cultivate some meaningful relationships, rather than simply ‘collecting’ contacts, with whom you have no real contact.
Finally, if you are using a Facebook personal profile or “Timeline” to connect with coworkers as well as friends, use discretion. While that photo of you from the party may draw giggles from your close friends, it might be taken out of context in a professional setting. In general, if you wouldn’t say it in the office in front of the boss, don’t post it on a Facebook status. If you wouldn’t frame a picture and put it on your desk at work, don’t post it for your coworkers to see.
Understand proper etiquette. Don’t use ALL CAPS. It’s the equivalent of shouting. Use proper grammar and spelling, and go easy on the chat-speak shorthand (ROFL, SMH and so on.)
Facebook can be an important marketing tool, or a professional’s worst nightmare. Use it carefully.