Befriending the Big Fish: Do or Don’t?

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Fish group chasing big fishIt’s nice to be friendly with coworkers, and even candidates. But what happens when they want to take things to the next level? Facebook Official… What do you do? Making a first impression is critical in developing a professional relationship. While gestalts are important, you can’t fall privy to failing the relationship. Posting something negative or obscene is a quick way to poison that professional connection. Professionally, 81 percent say that it is not okay to be friends with your boss on social media. So the question comes into play: When is social media appropriate for work or potential employment?

It has its place…

Social media doesn’t have to be just social and can be used for business and recruiting purposes as well. With sites like Buffer or HootSuite, it’s easy to maintain multiple accounts so you can have a professional account and a separate personal account. What’s even easier than mere social management is to adjust privacy settings; block groups or certain people from status updates that could harm your professional reputation; keep your personal and professional lives detached. This way you won’t risk giving a candidate the wrong impression. With 77 percent of recruiters now looking to social media to find their dream candidate, don’t let one social media blunder send you to the back of the line when attracting the perfect new hire. 

Social media is quickly becoming a norm for business communication with 87 percent of Fortune 100 companies having a presence on social media. If the economic leaders are active on social media, that means it’s a good thing right?  Corporations have social media managers for their accounts. Even they make social media mistakes, damaging company reputations. The difference: They have public relations teams to resolve the potential media crises. You don’t.

Prevent crossing the line

You can prevent offending colleagues and candidates through social media by simply not accepting or sending friend requests. However, some company cultures promote the close relationships that entail virtual friendships. So how can you make sure bosses and the talent pool you’re interviewing don’t see personal, non-professional information?

  • Adjust privacy settings – carefully consider who you want to see a post or a photo album. You can block certain individuals from seeing certain aspects of your profile. It will seem more professional to coworkers and supervisors.
  • Group settings – Go through your friends list and segment them. Are they coworkers, family, industry professionals, acquaintances? You can choose which one of these groups can see posts and pictures.
  • Professional vs. personal accounts – Easiest way to prevent crossing the line is to make separate accounts.
  • Social Awareness – Simply be aware of what is public on your social media. Your supervisor won’t need virtual friendship access if your profiles are public. 

Is LinkedIn really social?

It is safe to say that LinkedIn is one of the only professional social sites. Three hundred million people use LinkedIn compared to the 1.19 billion Facebook users. The culture of the social medium nearly prevents any kind of post-related blunder. The culture of LinkedIn separates it from the other social media in that it is much less social than the other sites. It creates and maintains professional connections—a virtual resume of sorts. Friending bosses and colleagues on LinkedIn isn’t just appropriate, it is encouraged. Seeing a candidate’s skills and qualifications recommended by other professionals on a resume-like site like LinkedIn is easier than a phone call searching for references. What could be better?

Office politics are touchy subjects; social media can exacerbate political catastrophe. Don’t risk walking the fine-line of professionalism and friendship. Whether they know it or not, your social media posts will affect your boss’ opinion of you. Be smart about your social management. You’re the only social media manager for your personal accounts; keep track of what you post. Keep colleagues and supervisors to LinkedIn. It’s professional, and quite frankly, socially safe. Social media has a great deal of influence. Don’t let your personal accounts influence your professional life negatively.

Does your company encourage or discourage social media interaction for recruitment?

Read more in Social Network

Raj Sheth is the CEO and cofounder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, Raj had founded two other web start-ups, namely a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He is a graduate of Babson College, M.A., and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) in Boston.