In the past, keeping your work life and your professional life separate was simple principle that most people followed. The common wisdom was that combining personal and professional lives could affect how you are seen by others at work and your prospects for success with your organization.
Now, with social media being all-pervasive, keeping that separation is much, much harder. Your coworkers can send a friend request to your personal Facebook page, customers can see your political views on Twitter and your manager can see you getting cozy with the competition’s Facebook profile.
For most people, combining professional and private lives is risky with potentially serious consequences for your career. Here are a few ways to keep those worlds separate.
Recognize the importance of social media connections
Professional relationships and networks are incredibly helpful in everyone’s career. Even though you might take a lax attitude toward social media, your relationships can be severely impacted if people see you post content that they strongly disagree with. Professional relationships can be essential to career success; because of this, respect the significance of these connections and keep them professional.
Don’t accept connection requests from work colleagues
There is a lot of emphasis on how social media connections shape our self-worth. Because of this, many people believe that connecting with co-workers and friends on personal social media adds to their value. However, this practice opens them up to having other people see what they do away from work, what folks in their network are up to and personal details that really don’t belong in a corporate setting.
To stay away from prickly issues, it is advisable to not to connect to work colleagues with your private social media profile unless they are someone you hang out with outside of work and can trust.
Use a content strategy
If you feel pressured to accept friend requests from work colleague, you could accept them and adopt a ‘content strategy’ for your social media profiles. Under this strategy, you would only post content that you have carefully considered and deemed not to be offensive or unprofessional.
While this strategy might make you feel inauthentic, it does allow you to participate on social media without undercutting your professionalism, or risking your work reputation.
Use an alternate name for your profile
While social media sites do have measures in place to prevent imposter profiles, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a nickname or variation on your given name. Using a custom name for your profile will make it more difficult for work colleagues to find you, thus giving you more control over who you connect with online.
Using an alternate name will also make it harder for potential employers to judge you based on your online activity.