Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About PNR | Contact PNR | Feedback | Help | Bookmark and Share

Facebook: Being Your Professional Self and Having a Personal Life, Too

Are you on Facebook? Facebook is an extremely popular social networking site with more than 200 million active users. More than 100 million of those users log in at least once every day. It may have been invented in a Harvard dorm room, but Facebook is definitely not just for college students anymore. The fastest growing age demographics on Facebook are 35-55 and 55+. Using Facebook can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, share photos and links, and yes, even get to know your professional contacts a little better.

If you are new to Facebook, watch these video tutorials from the Facebook for Grownups series.  A few details of the Facebook interface have changed since these videos were produced, but they still serve as nice introductions on how to set up a profile, find friends, and begin interacting with them.

If you”ve been on Facebook for any length of time, chances are you”ve faced some decisions about how much personal information to share and with whom to share it. You may, for example, want to share photos of your summer vacation with relatives, but not necessarily with co-workers or casual acquaintances who are your “friends” on Facebook. Perhaps your mother, daughter, or a college pal tagged a photo of you that you”d rather keep hidden. On the other hand, maybe the note you posted about an upcoming library conference is really only of interest to your professional friends. These are just a few examples of conflicts that might arise when you try to balance your personal and professional relationships on Facebook.

You should always think twice (or even three times) before posting any potentially sensitive information on the web. However, Facebook does offer several options for keeping your professional and personal identities separate. Ten Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know is a must-read article. Here are some highlights:

  • Review your privacy settings and be sure you are comfortable with the amount of information you are sharing publicly, with your networks, and with friends of friends. If you choose to list any personal contact information in Facebook, it is probably a good idea to hide it from people you have not approved as friends.
  • Friend lists are useful for sorting friends into groups based on how you know them and how well you know them. Privacy settings such as who can see photos tagged of you, who may post messages on your wall, etc. can be applied to groups of friends.
  • If you search the web for your name, does your Facebook profile appear in the search results? Would you rather it didn”t? Learn how to limit who can discover your profile in Facebook and web searches.

Take the time to perform a “friend audit” on your Facebook account. Some careful consideration now could protect your privacy and your reputation in the future.

3 Responses to “Facebook: Being Your Professional Self and Having a Personal Life, Too”

  1. Hope Leman Says:

    Hi, Alison. Very edifying. I am interested in exploring which disease advocacy organizations have a presence on FaceBook (e.g. the ALS Association) and will definitely watch the tutorials you mention. Let’s hope that overzealous firewall keepers in corporate settings loosen up on FaceBook given its adoption by mainstream nonprofits.

  2. Anna Heinrich Says:

    Reading the article on the 10 privacy settings and following them has really make me feel more secure about using Facebook. I have challenged friends to try to find me and they have been unsuccessful. Now I am comfortable using Facebook to communicate with those friends far away. Thanks for the information, I’ve passed the article to many people I know!

  3. Alisha Miles Says:

    Excellent post Allison. I agree you should limit the amount of information and pictures you place on facebook. I see several people putting tons of pictures of their children on Facebook, listing work & home information, and even talking about their children’s activities. It makes it very easy for someone to quickly learn a lot about their life that could harm them or their children. I know you have to approve people before they can view your page (depending on how you have your security set-up), but people’s accounts are hacked all the time. Also, what about employees who scan through the social networking sites. Keep in mind what you are posting can be seen by a boss or future boss.

    I currently have 2 facebook accounts, one for personal use and one for professional use. Really there is not much difference in my profiles; however, just like in home life I keep my professional world separate from my family. In this over-connected world, IMO, I think we all need to set-up some boundaries and keep some personal space. Just a thought. Maybe it is the intraverte in me coming out.

    Alisha Miles
    Twitter: Alisha764