Skip to content

How to Use Facebook for Professional Networking

July 17, 2009

How do you use Facebook? Is it to connect with long forgotten friends or share fun tidbits of your personal life with extended family? If that’s you, well… you are not alone. A great majority of Facebook users maintain Facebook profiles exclusively for personal networking and do not feel Facebook is appropriate for professional networking. I disagree with this approach. Facebook social networking experience should be what you want to make of it and more and more professionals turn to Facebook to maintain professional and/or business presence in addition to a personal one.

What’s wrong with using LinkedIn for my professional networking?

Nothing really. LinkedIn is definitely the channel of choice for professional networking. However, Facebook continues to grow and mature making its security and sharing options more and more robust. All this to ensure that you have choices and your social networking experience is precisely what YOU want to make of it. While you won’t post pictures of your family vacation on LinkedIn, a balanced mix of professional information along with a limited and tasteful glimpse into your personal life could prove to make Facebook the new LinkedIn for those who what to use Facebook for both.

Charlene Kingston in her blog post advocates keeping two separate profiles on Facebook: your personal profile for friends and family and your professional one by creating a “fan page.” This works great for small businesses where the owner of the business has the authority to set up and control the fan page. What if you work in a big company and do not have that luxury? You can still use your Facebook profile as a professional networking tool as long as your follow some basic rules.

Polish your Facebook profile for professional networking

Let’s start with some basics which includes using your real and full name in your profile. This is not only important to ensure that you are easily found on Facebook and on Google when your profile is indexed but also to keep the profile professional. Don’t use nicknames, fictional names or maiden names unless that’s the name you are using in your professional life. Remember to secure your facebook vanity domain name to make it easy to direct others to your Facebook profile with a clean and easy to type in URL.

Also, don’t forget to include your photo in your profile. No avatars, no images of kids or wedding photos please. A simple, tasteful head shot of you will do the trick.

Include detailed information about your area of expertise, your company where you work including website and any other social media channels where corporate presence is maintained. Your contact information and all of your social media channels you maintain presence on should also be listed.

Adjust your security settings

What might be appropriate to share with your family and close friends might not be appropriate to display or share with your colleagues or professional contacts. Don’t just assume the default security settings will keep you out of trouble. Take the time to go through each link in the Privacy area and make adjustments. Nick O’Neal has a great blog posts that will guide you to choose wisely when adjusting your privacy settings.

Consider setting up friends’ groups to control what information is viewable by whom. The groups are also  IMPORTANT because according to Facebook you soon will have precise control of what gets shared with whom on the level of individual wall post.  You will be able to direct your weekend planning posts to just  your family or friends and send posts about the latest whitepaper you’ve read to just your colleagues and professional contacts. Having your friends divided into logical groups  will make appropriate sharing a snap. Here is more info. about Facebook’s new privacy settings including the timeline for rolling this enhancement out (courtesy of the Marketing Pilgrim blog).

Add apps selectively

There are tons of applications available for download, but it does not mean that you should go for quantity rather than quality. Yes, you can send virtual gifts to people, play games or display love quotes, but aside from being great time wasters these types of activities will greatly diminish the quality of your profile. Opt for socializing with others through conversations, asking and answering questions, sharing resources and advice rather than playing games.

Join groups related to your business interests

Similarly to LinkedIn, finding and joining quality Facebook groups opens up great opportunities to network with professionals who are interested in what you are interested in and who will pay attention if you display your subject matter expertise there.

Not sure how to find groups? Search for them and see what groups your colleagues have joined. If you find that there is no group that matches your expertise create one, but before you do that please think about your own commitment to maintaining the group. There are a lot of dead groups on Facebook. Don’t let yours be one of them.

Interact with your Facebook friends and group members

There is nothing more powerful than personal interaction. Facebook excels at it and gives you lots of opportunities to engage. Remember though to separate your personal posts from your professional content.

For your professional network interactions consider the following activities

  • Asking/answering questions or starting a new discussion thread
  • Sharing a resource on your group’s wall particularly articles you have written or articles that quote you
  • Commenting on a status message of your colleague
  • Sharing a list of your favorite industry books or online resources
  • Inviting others or accepting invitation to professional networking events

But don’t attempt to send bulk commercial or self-serving messages to all your friends. Maintaining a professional presence is about finding and developing relationships and not spamming people.

Aggregate content from other channels

If you maintain presence on other social media channels feel free to aggregate content from them and display it on your Facebook page. This includes aggregating your blog post using the notes feature , displaying your twitter feed creating your LInkedIn profile  badge or displaing your Slideshare slides on Facebook.

Remember though that making professional relationships on Facebook is just like making relationships in real life. It takes “care and feeding” so don’t expect to gain long-term benefits with short-term efforts. Think of that networking time as an investment the same way you would do it on LinkedIn.

Good luck and love to connect with you on Facebook www.facebook.com/anetahall.

Image curtesy of Amit Gupta

About these ads
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers

%d bloggers like this: