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Online networking – Business or pleasure?

I get asked a lot when speaking about whether people should mix business with their private lives when it comes to online networking. People are concerned that clients may see something which may show them in a negative light. Indeed many run dual pages on sites like Facebook to deal with this.

My take on this is simple; it depends!

There really is no rule that fits all, and whilst I have chosen to completely mix the two environments, it wont be right for everyone.

I believe that for small business owners the lines are becoming more blurred anyway. Many people we meet in a networking context are growing into trusted friends and we may even be socialising.

Facebook is the real concern for most as it is the place where most of us connect with family, friends, neighbours and people we went to school with. For many it is a social site, not business. Somewhere we go to upload family photos, or find out what sort of pirate you are.

My take is this; If you are in a profession where you need to portray a certain image, it maybe a mistake to share those photos of you getting drunk with the girls/lads on that recent hen/stag party.

For example how many of us would feel comfortable knowing our financial investments were in the hands of someone who comes across as a hedonist online? How many of us would like to see our local undertaker pulling a moonie out of a car window? For some, you should consider creating a separate Facebook page just for work.

My Facebook page shows off Warren the father, husband, business person and party goer. When asked to connect via Facebook by a client, I simply let them know what to expect before and manage their expectations. If someone doesn’t want to do business with me because of something they see on Facebook then I am not sure it was ever going to be a long-term business relationship anyway? I would never be so stupid as to use it as a platform to express views on politics or religion etc but it does basically capture what I am about.

Sometimes it goes wrong…(Or does it?) Two years ago I was invited to a party organised by www.angelsden.com to celebrate their second anniversary. Typically I only scanned the invitation which said “Wear all white fancy dress“. So wanting to make an impression I tried on the astronaut, Elvis Presley and Pope outfits and settled on 7ft white rabbit (Well with a name like Warren what do you expect?).

When I arrived at the party I realised the invitation actually said “All white dress“. No mention of the word fancy at all! Everyone was in white suits, white dresses, white hats etc and I was the 7ft bunny. Yes slightly embarrassing, but I was the most photographed person in the room LOL…….. and they all ended up on Facebook!

Even more recently, over the Christmas holidays we had friends over for drinks. It wasn’t long before the ‘Just Dance’ Wii game was played. Before you watch, before the party I had been given some vouchers to spend in JJB. I used them to buy some running kit and from the Large stand I bought some jogging bottoms for lounging around the house. When I got them home I realised they were XXXXL and I could have fit into them 4 times!

So for fun I put them on for my dance… This was unfortunately kindly posted by my good mate Matt Heath (Git) over the weekend. From the video you will plainly see why I am trying to lose weight lol but I ask you this… Are you less likely to do business with me because you found this on my Facebook page or more likely because it makes me more human? More approachable? Shows I don’t take myself too seriously?

So to conclude, social media isn’t one size fits all. You have to be comfortable with what you share, but I guarantee you this; the more you share the more people will buy into you!

Just be appropriate!

I hope you have found this useful and if nothing else I have made you feel better about your own dancing ability!

Take care and please remember to tweet or Like if you found it useful.

Warren

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About Warren

Warren Cass is the social media strategist who helps businesses find their feet with tools such as Twitter, You Tube, Facebook etc and co- author of Zero to Social Media Subscribe to my email newsletter for a free social media checklist.

Comments

  1. Would it be mean to admit that I laughed? If it’s mean, I didn’t laugh… just don’t ring me in the next ten minutes… you may not understand a word that I say ;)

    I have read tales of people losing work as they say things like “wine o’clock” on Twitter, and have said it so often that they have come across as a heavy drinker when the reality was different.

    It’s a tough call and like you say if you are a professional then you need to sort out a system that works for you.
    sarah recently posted..Simple tips to engage bloggersMy Profile

  2. Awesome video and this is what gives us all a look in to WHO you are and it makes me trust someone more when I can see it not all just business as I buy from you the person.

    Ces and I have always mixed “business” with “pleasure” and it has worked well for us as our clients can see who we are and what we are about and OOO so true that if they don’t do business because of a post or clip with us being OURSELVES then would it of been a good business relation.

    There is always a line where it is to much and aslong you keep sight of this then it will only bring you more friends and business.

    “My life is my wife and kids and without My business there is no pleasure”

    Catch up soon

    Jay

  3. What a great post! (Great video too!!)
    This topic comes up all the time. In previous lives I used to keep work/personal strictly separated, but I’ve blurred this a bit although I still have my boundaries. Like others have mentioned, I use LinkedIn for strictly professional, Twitter for a mix of both (though mostly lighter social stuff) and Facebook is where I connect with friends/family/scary photos etc!

    You do have to be cautious, a friend of mine once posted on her Facebook status that she’d had a really bad day at work and was feeling a bit low, the next day, the boss called her to check how she was having seen the update.

    I think its just being consistent and true to yourself and others.

    Amie

    • There are so many horror stories out there Amie, so many people have lost jobs/relationships because of something they have said online. Think people think!

  4. George Montgomery says:

    Warren

    Great post and video. Yes mixing business and pleasure can be challenging to the ego. BTW those young people in your video were looking on aghast at your dancing. I hope they were OK afterwards..lol.

    Regards

    George

  5. Surely you’re a contender for http://www.so-you-think-you-can-dance.co.uk/
    do it, do it, do it!

  6. Ha! Nice one Warren… as you might expect me to observe… Personality Will Out! Whatever else people are, they have their preferences and pre-dispositions.

    Your personality (reasonably obvious when first meeting you), allows me to connect on an extraverted, results-focussed and motivational basis. Others I meet, I connect more on a cerebral, process-based and serious basis.

    It’s knowing a) which YOU are (and your likely impact on others) and b) The other persona’s preferences (and how you can adapt/connect with them!

    Get a free, two page personality profile in under 30 seconds – all about you. Just visit http://www.nine5three.com and follow the colour cards.

    Andy E

    • Hi Andy, thanks for commenting. Good point, your personality is a key factor in how you communicate with people and how easy you make friends.

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    • read the invitation (twice!) On a serious note though, it’s always best to keep your business and social networks separate. Many people choose to conduct business in a very different manner to the way they might interact socially, and rightly so!! Investment is as much about personal credibility building than about the commercial gain.

      http://www.enterpriseden.co.uk

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