Career Prescription #3: Use Facebook

Career Opportunities podcast logoCareer Prescription #3: Use Facebook
By Douglas E. Welch

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I get the feeling that this might be the most controversial of all of these Career Prescriptions. What possible use could it be to immerse yourself in the world of Farmville, Mafia Wars and Super Pokes? The fact is, while these gaming and social aspects of Facebook garner the most press attention, there are quite a few benefits of connecting with your “friends” on Facebook. To make your experience the best possible, though, let me present a few guidelines, as I have with the previous prescriptions.

First, only add people as friends if you have some direct, if not physical, connection with them. This could mean your co-workers, acquaintances from conferences as well as those people you may only know in some virtual forum like a discussion group, mailing list or other web site. Limiting yourself to this group keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and gives you a solid base to interact with these people. Once you add yourself to Facebook, your friends, co-workers, ex-girlfriends and boyfriends and school chum will know you are there. Connect only to those people who are truly important to you.

Next, never feel bad about not reciprocating a friendship request. The person who sent the request will NOT receive a notice that you have clicked “Ignore” instead of “Add Friend” They will just not see your Facebook content.There should be no guilt associated with this. It is more self-preservation than anything else. Each and every person you add on Facebook or any other service, should bring some value to you. This value can be business-related and monetary, information-related or a valuable connection for personal reasons. There must be some value, though, otherwise their updates are just noise that prevent you from hearing the good information you need. Think about what value each person provides before clicking the Add Button.

If you feel a need to interact with those people you don’t know IRL (in real life), consider setting up a fan page for your work, your business or your product. This separates those you “know” from those that want to know you. Look for an upcoming column dedicated to that topic.

Even among our best friends, they can get involved in trivial pursuits that we don’t care to hear about. You will see invitations to join them in Farmville or whenever they have a new crop coming in. These types of notices are easily hidden, and you should do just that. You’ll see a Hide button next to each update in your news feed. Remember, you are after value in your conversations. To use a farm analogy, you are separating the wheat from the chaff. Do so ruthlessly.

Not that we have talked about managing your flow of friends and information FROM Facebook, let’s talk about what Facebook provides to you. First, you must keep value in your mind, too, when posting your information to Facebook. Are you providing value, or just babbling? Utilize the golden rule. Only put on Facebook that information you would like to see from others.

Next, provide that best information. Share photos from events you attend. Link to podcasts and videos that are important to you. Share your personal thoughts when you think they might be important for others to hear. Facebook allows you to give a glimpse of your life to those who may not be close enough geographically to see it up close and personal. In the interest of visibility, you are showing what you do, and how well you do it, to a collection of people who might otherwise not be able to see it.

As with all the previous prescriptions, I am asking you to give this one a try, even if you are not sure you are going to like Facebook, or find it useful. I think that once you engage in each of these prescriptions — using the guidelines I have given — you will find them useful and productive to some extent. Let me know about your experiences on the Career Opportunities Community Site (another free service you can join). Despite what you might have heard, social networking can help your career in a number of ways, if you engage on your terms.

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  1. Pingback: For those considering Facebook and your small business » My Small Business Consultants

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