Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Business Networking 101: Two Rules

PC World has a post on the “6 Commandments of Social Networking“, which contains (among others) a couple of best practices I’ve recommended ever so often on this blog. Let’s take a look at them and wherever necessary I’ll link to a post from the past. (Disclosure: I’m the Community Evangelist at LinkedIn and I’m hoping that won’t prevent you from reading the rest of the post)

1. Keep separate professional and social networking avatars

I think the first 3 rules goes into extreme detail trying to educate you on how to maintain the lines between your professional and social networking lives. Here’s my most recent post on the need for two separate networks (one social and the other professional). The PC World piece itself hints that:

Because so many people use their Facebook or Twitter accounts to manage both personal and professional aspects of their lives, this can lead to some tricky situations. Take, for example, vacation photos. It’s not just your mom looking at pictures of you at the Grand Canyon anymore.

I’ve referred to this very situation in an earlier post where I quoted Keith N. Hampton, an assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, who thinks that

…you should be able to present one face to your boss, and another to your poker buddies. “We have very real reasons for wanting to segment our social network”

The PC World article goes on to highlight other never-do’s regards to sharing photos and status messages. Employment lawyer, Ron, warns:

You should not post photos of yourself or others that paint you or others in an unprofessional light.”Similarly, you should also remember to be mindful of any text missives that could come back to haunt you. Block points out, “Your status updates do not have to be suitable for ‘Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,’ but think twice before posting what a rotten day you are having.

Given the enormous time constraints in setting numerous privacy controls spanning a variety of apps and hundreds of “friends” in my social network, I manage a social avatar on Facebook (private)/Twitter (public) while I focus on my professional interests on LinkedIn/this blog (public).

How do you maintain your social networks?

2. Present your online brand respectfully and honestly

I’ve always believed that maintaining a public professional profile is way more important than regular updates on Twitter and Facebook (although I do both!). But, with minimal effort you can set up your professional network (Here’s mine).

Your online brand is eventually going to revolve around your Google search and your professional networking site is one of those components you can get up and running quickly without wasting much time. And if you’d like a far more cultivated professional brand, I’d say start a blog and link to it.

For more on this topic, check out my earlier posts on professional brand management and five steps that could lead to your dream job! Story of my life!

Feel free to share in the comments section what your professional networking best practices are.

Do you maintain separate social and professional networking lives? Share in comments.

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

6 Responses

  1. Mark Stencel says:

    Mario: I think maintaining two identities is a little difficult in this day and age, since relationships often transcend worlds — and in the end, you connect with your friends, professional and/or personal, whereever they happen to be. If you try to maintain a strictly professional profile on Facebook because your organization/employer has an institutional group there, do you “ignore” that old college buddy who wants to “friend” you there?

    I always assume most online postings are widely accessible, and since I have ended up with a combination of social and professional connections on a variety of platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and so on), I try to maintain a somewhat professional demeanor everywhere — never getting much more personal in any public posting than I would on an elevator or in line at a coffee shop. I divert most personal communications to more private channels (Facebook messages or plain old e-mail) and turn off applications that invite trouble. For instance, I nuked the Wall from my Facebook profile after an old high school friend posted a reminiscence I’d just as soon not share with current colleagues.

    LinkedIn’s somewhat more limited communication tools have helped make it a safer place for professional communication. And I say that as an enthusiast, not a critic. But I’d still be cautious about any questions or answers I posted there.

    My ideal world: Facebook, LinkedIn and other services would provide a Plaxo-like way to distinguish between friends (professional, social, both) that would allow users to more easily present different faces to different people. That said, I’d still assume anything I posted can and will be used against me professionally.

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  2. Schmoozii says:

    Sounds like good advice, but I would also recommend separate profiles entirely for professional and social networking.

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  3. Wow, this is a very nice article, good job!

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  4. Mario Sundar says:

    @Mark,

    There may be an interesting level of overlap between your social and professional networks, however, in my case it ONLY includes individuals who are actually in both my networks. I’ve “work” friends I socialize with for e.g.

    And, that’s exactly the reason I don’t maintain a professional presence on Facebook since there are far greater opportunities to be social on FB.

    As for your 2nd point, I wholeheartedly agree it is important to establish a certain degree of propriety wherever you are on the web and that ties to my previous post on developing and maintaining your online brand. Cos, what you do on the Web stays on the Web – FOREVER!

    And, thanks for you kind words on LinkedIn.

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  5. […] Two online personas vs. One!? July 9, 2008 Posted by Mario Sundar in professionalnetworking, socialnetworking. Tags: facebook, linkedin, markstencel trackback Mark Stencel (editor of the Governing magazine) left a comment, which I thought was worth publishing in it’s entirety in response to my earlier post on Professional Networking 101 […]

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