How to Keep Business and Personal Separate Online

Learn how to keep your personal life apart from your business life when communicating in social networks.

Aliza Sherman
April 22, 2010
Episode #095

How to Keep Business and Personal Separate Online

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, yes, even MySpace, not to mention Flickr, YouTube, Bebo, Netflix. A day can't go by anymore without at least one social networking or social sharing site touching our work or our lives. Many of us network online with an emphasis on “social.” So how do we make sure our “social” networking doesn't clash with our business networking online?

Back to how to keep those pics of you dancing on a table wearing a lampshade away from your business colleagues, your clients, or your boss.

How to Keep Business and Personal Separate Online

At this point, you probably already have a few social networking accounts. But when you set them up, did you already have a plan for which ones would be purely business-related and which ones would be personal? Sure, LinkedIn by default is very business-oriented--chances are you'll never see that lampshade pic on there--but what about Facebook, Twitter or any number of places where your name could be associated with less professional content?

How to Manage Your Online Image

Making smart decisions now about how you broadcast your personal and business lives online can save you headaches and misery later.

First order of business: Google yourself. Enter your name--and any variations--into Google and immerse yourself in your online self. That is how people see you when they Google you for themselves.

Any red flags? Put yourself into the shoes of those whom you are trying to reach or impress. Anything there that might be embarrassing? That might get you fired?

Next: Draw some clear lines. Sure you can blend a little personal into the professional or a do a little business with friends. But ultimately, make some tough decisions about your social networks--which ones will be for your work self and which ones will be for your at-home, kick-off-your-shoes crazy self?

Be Careful When Using Facebook and Twitter

Facebook Pages are great for professional fodder, but Facebook is a mixed bag. Personally, I think that unless you're the type of businessperson who wears your personal life and emotion on your sleeve--and it doesn't hurt business--then Facebook is a dangerous place where overly personal interactions could collide with your work self.

Even though Facebook has put some admin controls into place meant to help you let certain people only see certain things from your feed, who among us has enough time on our hands to figure it out and then maintain pristine management of our personal and professional Facebook selves? Twitter, like most other social networks, lacks those controls so it's up to you to have self control.

How to Practice Safe Social Networking

My advice: Use LinkedIn as your professional billboard, if you will. There is little opportunity to get yourself into trouble on LinkedIn if you are using their basic features and watching what you say. If you don't have a LinkedIn account yet, what are you waiting for? All the professional, business folks are doing it.

Bottom Line: Don't be foolish and think that you can keep your personal stuff secret and apart from your professional stuff. It just is not possible. I advise you to analyze and separate. If you don't, do so at your own risk.

Woman with Laptop image from Shutterstock