Are you wondering whether or not to send or accept friend requests from clients and colleagues on social media? Ask yourself these questions first.
Some people love being everywhere, keeping up accounts with Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Others are happy to share a Facebook account with a significant other and call it a day. If you’re happy to use multiple accounts, maybe you can keep work friends on one or two of them and save the rest for your personal life and hobbies.
Do you have strident views on Canadian tax law, Quebec separatism, or wind turbine power generation? That’s perfectly fine – you’re entitled your opinions, whatever they are – but potential clients might not appreciate your views. Or they might even dislike the fact that you’re so free in sharing them. The nature of your industry will determine how appropriate your political sharing on social media is, but you might find it safer to keep work friends on a social account with less sharing, while saving your considered political posts for a more personal account.
Is your Facebook timeline just various businesses and interests you follow? Or is your feed full of friends and family posting things that, while not bad, are pretty personal, and tagging you while they’re at it? If Facebook is a place where your Aunt Peggy tags you in videos of your latest family barbecue and karaoke contest, you shouldn’t have to forgo that for the sake of a colleague’s delicate sensibilities.
Some people like the idea of a potential new client showing up in their Twitter DMs or in Facebook Messenger. Others would prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate. Will you be okay with answering a business-related message on your social media messaging? Do you check it often enough? Do you want to deal with another communication channel?
Social media comes with the potential for networking, information sharing, and new pieces of work. By friending a possible client, you can get to know them a bit better, meet other potential clients connected to their network, and understand a bit more about what they’re looking for in a partner.
Sites like Facebook have tools that let you filter what posts get shown to other people. For example, if you wanted, you could tag a post as OK to show your friends, but specifically exclude people like your boss or a gossipy co-worker. The question you should ask yourself is: how much time do you want to put into social media? Do you want to regularly review your timeline, deleting posts or removing the ability of specific people to view them?
With all these questions in mind, come up with a personal policy regarding work friends on social media and stick to it. Social media is one of the most accessible public faces of who you are and what you do, so it pays to get this right.
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