I’ve had several clients ask to become friends on my personal social channels. While I use resources such as LinkedIn for client connections, I am concerned about blending my personal social media channels with work. My sales customers are my livelihood. Where should I draw the line? – Toni in Baltimore, Maryland
Toni, building and maintaining relationships through social media is how we function today. Blending your personal and professional relationships allows your business network to forge a deeper connection. Ultimately, you want your clients to know, trust, and like you. It’s natural to become friends and follow you on Facebook, Instagram, or whichever channel you have in common. And so it’s easy for a business associate who sends you a friend request to be upset or angered if you delay or decline the request.
Establishing up front how you will manage your social channels is the key to navigating a potentially tricky situation. Regardless of whether you decide to blend your personal and professional channels, be mindful of what you post. Everything you publish becomes a trail that can impact your career down the road. In fact, it’s common employer practice today for the hiring and promotion process to review and evaluate your social media activity.
If you choose to keep the mediums separate, prepare a response to your professional contacts who request to friend you on your personal channels. I recommend meeting them in person to state why you do not blend your channels, or, if necessary, have the conversation on the phone. Always do this promptly. But never by voicemail, email, or text, which are impersonal and can easily be misconstrued. How you manage the friend request will influence your relationship. As such, your communication should be brief, simple, honest, and kind. You want them to walk away knowing you still truly value your professional relationship.
It comes down to your preference on blending or keeping channels separate. I like the transparency and better understanding that comes from blending my social media with personal and professional connections. In fact, there are many careers that may actually be enhanced by the additional channel connections. You can build stronger, more genuine relationships when you share more about yourself. In turn, you have the opportunity to get to know them better, too, by discovering common ground, shared interests, and values. Think of it as work-life integration. If you are still hesitating, ask yourself why. What’s really holding you back? When you identify the underlying fear, it will help you choose if you want to build a wall or break it down.
Chapter 4 of Practical Wisdoms @ Work
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.