It’s an important and frequent question: should I put personal information on my professional networks? Should I put professional information on my personal networks?
I like blurring the lines between the personal and professional halves of my life. For one thing, it’s part of my brand. I’m a humor writer and fiction writer in my off-time, and I don’t mind sharing that with my professional network. So I’ll occasionally post something funny to Twitter and LinkedIn. And I’m a small business owner, author, and speaker, so I’ll share work-related items on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, Twitter is the place where I will absolutely blur the lines. Followers on Twitter get Erik the Dad as well as Erik the Business Owner.
There are a very few instances you don’t want to do this: you’re a spy, or in the witness protection program. Or you work for an idiot of a boss who thinks that you should never, ever reveal to the outside world that you have an identity outside of work, let alone a family, home, and hobbies. (Stop working for this guy.)
But other than that, mix away! Mix your personal and professional lives. Brag to your professional network about the fish you caught over the weekend at the lake. Tell your personal friends about the speech in England you’ve been invited to give.
We are, supposedly, well-adjusted people who lead full and rich lives. We seek to find that balance between work and personal. There is no one in this world, except maybe your idiot boss, who lives and breathes their work life to the exclusion of everything else.
So why do people try to hide the fact that they have a personal life from their professional network, or never discuss their work lives with their personal friends?
While I’m not advocating completely mixing of the two halves of your life, I am suggesting that you let some information about each trickle over to the other.
Things NOT to Share
There are a few things you cannot and should not share with your other network.
- Don’t share proprietary company news with your personal network. (Don’t share it with your professional network either.)
- Don’t violate HIPAA or other privacy rules.
- Don’t share “intimate” details with your professional network. (Don’t share it with your personal network either, especially if they’re icky.)
- Don’t gossip about people at work on your personal networks. You might have accidentally friended them a long time ago on Facebook. Or might have some mutual friends you didn’t know about.
- Don’t share your political ideology to your professional network. While it may be fine for talk around the office, it may not be appropriate to your professional contacts online.
- Don’t share the same overly-sappy, happy, puppies-and-rainbows inspirational quotes on LinkedIn that you do on Facebook. Also, keep them off Twitter (there’s nothing actually wrong with doing it, I just hate them).
- If you tend to be more of the vicious shark in the business world, try not to let that part of your personality spill over into your personal world.
- Similarly, if you happen to be a right-brained, artsy-fartsy type at home, that may not fly at work, especially if you work for a bank or an accounting firm.
Things TO Share
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. He is also a humor writer and satirist, which hopefully you figured out before you got this far into this blog post.