By Angela Copeland
A reader recently wrote in with what is clearly an issue on the minds of professionals: social media in the workplace. In other words, should I be Facebook friends with my boss?
Today’s workforce is more casual than generations in the past. Many companies allow employees to wear jeans and tennis shoes to work. And, we’re being more open about our personal lives.
There are many advantages to this. Openness can help to move us closer from diversity to inclusion. It’s about being able to bring your entire self to work.
The digital marketer in me has made friends with colleagues on social media in the past. In the world of digital marketing, social media is part of your toolkit. It’s another way you get your job done. But, this is a rare phenomenon that doesn’t apply to many jobs. So, this takes us back at the original question. Should you follow your boss on Instagram? Should you comment on your employees’ tweets? And, should you connect on LinkedIn?
I may be old fashioned, but this is my take. Social media is for your family and loved ones. If a colleague is close enough, then perhaps they should be considered. But, beyond that, work should be separate.
There are many things in life that are best kept separate from work, whether it’s politics, finances, or love. Your social media life is one of those things. On top of the party photos that may appear on your Facebook wall, you may share your opinions on the current political climate. You very likely are sharing things with your close friends that are different points of views than your colleagues share.
The last thing you want is for your weekend activities to have an impact on your work. In your mind, it may make no difference. But, you never know when someone may treat you differently based on what they see on your social media. And, they’re not going to tell you.
Keeping things separated can also help to increase your perceived level of professionalism. I’m often asked to speak on topics around executive presence. Executive presence is very much related to how people perceive you at work. And, it will impact whether or not you’re promoted or thought of for more advanced work.
So, as tempting as it is to want to be friends on social media with your colleagues, think twice. There are many pitfalls to this that you may not see now. And, you may want to take it a step further. You may want to make a universal policy that you don’t friend anyone on social media who you currently work with. That way, no one person will get their feelings hurt when they realize that you’ve friended someone else but not them.
The one exception to all of this is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an excellent way to maintain and grow your professional network.
Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.