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Friends vs. Coworkers… or Both? When Is it OK to Connect on Social Media?

Posted on January 29, 2014
Jessica SussmanWritten by Jessica Sussman | Email author

In this day and age, social media has made work relationships a lot more complicated.  Before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there wasn’t much to connect you to your co-workers outside of work.  You came in in the morning, maybe mingled, but then ultimately, went home to your own life.  Now with so much access to others through social media, it’s hard not to confuse the two relationships and decide how to handle it.  Being the youngest and least work-experienced in the office, I’ve come to realize a few tips and tricks to help me balance the two, while still having a lot of fun and maintaining great relationships.friend-or-coworker-social-media-connections

  1. Proof your own social networking sites. No matter how hard you try to keep things private, things on the Internet always have a way of being found.  A great rule of thumb would be, as soon as you are employed, check yourself out and view your profile as if you were a stranger.  Would you be okay with them seeing you in your “weekend” outfits?  Holding a drink?  It’s always good to clean it up and look presentable.
  2. Have an open conversation with your co-worker about connecting on social media. I know this may sound silly, but seriously it’s human nature to make friends with the people you spend a lot of time with and in doing so, it’s important to keep your relationships with colleagues in line.  From my own experience, I have worked with people close in age to me and I had the assumption that connecting online would be a no brainer.  I was surprised to find that in not checking with them first, it came off disrespectful or an invasion of their privacy.
  3. Use an alternative social networking site to connect. Here at Helios, we recently started to use Yammer.  I would highly recommend this to any organizations that has employees who travel a lot or don’t come into headquarters often.  Yammer is a great way to engage with your co-workers online without having to worry too much about your social presence or what other people post to you.  To those who aren’t familiar with Yammer, think, Facebook for businesses.  You are able to post pictures and updates to your network of colleagues at your organization.  Since using Yammer, I feel like I got to know a lot more of my co-workers even when they weren’t in the office with me on a more personal level.

For me, that’s what I have found to be the three biggest considerations in engaging co-workers on social media.  These have proven successful and to this day have had no awkward encounters.  It’s surprising how much thought we have to put into social media and work life, but it’s worth the extra few minutes of thinking to keep your two lives balanced.  Personally, I would always encourage befriending people in your office because you end up spending a lot of time with these people and if you’re having a rough day; it’s nice to have a friendly face so close.

Any questions or comments on how you balance your work and personal social media?  I’d love to hear!

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