Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Separation Between the Personal and Professional Online

One question that most people encounter online is where to draw the line between personal and professional. Do you keep your "friends" in Facebook and your "professional connections" in LinkedIn?

Before you start thinking how to corral information online think about how these people are grouped in real life. Are some of your co-workers your friends? Are there interesting pieces of your personal life that you would want to share with your professional contacts? (The answers should be yes if not, you need a more interesting personal life or a different job.)

Alin Wagner-Lahmy has nice article on this at the Official Blog of Martindale-Hubbell: CES Day 5: The Personal and the Professional.
Sharing professional and social info with one’s professional and social connections gives a better way to broadcast your message to many people, and strengthen your online presence and relationships, and it also gives a more holistic view of a person and allows a much more interesting and fun way to communicate with your friends, colleagues, etc – a connection between two or more people is much more stronger when they share a personal experience, interest or emotion.
Anything you put online is potentially discoverable by anyone from any aspect of your life. If you are broadcasting information think about the channel of your communication. Think about the audience in the different social internet sites. You will inevitably have very different groups of information in those sites.

The same holds true for knowledge management. You want to put the information that is most interesting and relevant to a particular group in a place where that group can see it. You filter the content and organize the content depending on the expected audience.


  1. A related question that comes up is whether users of online networking sites should invite or accept invites from only people they know and trust, or anybody and everybody? Further, does/should this vary by site?

  2. I think the decision to make connections varies from site to site.

    On LinkedIn, I generally only connect with people that I have actually meet face-to-face or had some meaningful conversation.

    In Facebook, I have historically been more open (actually, flattered that anyone cared about a more personal side). As my friend list has grown I am rethinking that strategy and may "de-friend" some people, leaning towards keeping it more personal and friend oriented than professional (but still keeping out anything that would not want in front of a larger audience.) I recently de-coupled my twitter feed from my Facebook updates. Different audiences should get different information.

    On Twitter, I connect with people that I find interesting and provide interesting information, whether I know them or have met them. I do not think it is necessary to follow everyone that follows you. You have no control over who follows you. (Don't bother with protecting your updates.) You should not have to flood your twitter reading with updates or people that are not interesting to you.

    Everyone has different approaches. I personally do not believe that you should connect with everyone on every site. I find that it creates too much noise and dilutes the connections and information that matter to you. You need to find the right balance of connections and information on the sites you use.


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