I’m a bit out of synch with social media and have entirely out-dated notions about personal vs professional spaces.
For me, Facebook is a personal space to share what I chose with friends. As in ACTUAL friends. As in people I really do honestly KNOW. As in really have MET at some point in our lives.
Not random strangers who happen to have at least one common connect (necessary to find me on FB) and a bizarre notion we can ‘make friends.’ For the unfamiliar, that is code for “I expect to get my jollies by chatting you up as after all… you are a loose ‘white’ woman.” (Oh and the ‘white’ part only enhances the sleaze factor, lovely desi ladies are not immune to such unwanted attentions).
Whereas for me, LinkedIn is a professional space where I’m happy to keep connected with those I’ve met professionally. Ideally we’ve worked together directly. If not, we have at least met in a professional context or there is a rationale for keeping abreast of each others professional developments. The bonus about LinkedIn is it doesn’t seem to be the horny stalker social medium of choice – yeah!
Sure the lines between professional and personal are blurred. It is perfectly natural to meet interesting professionals along the way and become friends. Just as some friends share professional interests.
Professional is Professional
As I try to keep LinkedIn to REAL connects, if I receive an invite and do not have an instant ‘Aha!’ based on name, photo and work history, I generally reach out to confess my poor memory and ask clarification of the connect.
Often this is ignored. Sometimes I get interesting responses. A lot are in fact random with no real merit aside from complete strangers somehow imagining I can land them their dream job! A few are real connects and I am more than delighted to have my defective synapses jogged and reconnect with folks I’ve met along a 25+ year professional journey!
I’ve also amusingly learned that name alone is not sufficient! I know far too many people with the exact same name – seriously. I’ve even had my phone merge two CEOs into one contact as they share names. And call one when I meant to call the other!? Thankfully they are both gents, in the same industry, so aware of each other and laugh it off.
Professional to Personal
Years ago, the first time I received a Facebook invitation from an ex boss, I ignored it for at least six months. It thought highly of him, felt comfortable with his seeing the more personal side of my life but I struggled with a very North American notion of the personal vs professional divide.
As I’ve stepped outside of the regular corporate space, have enjoyed watching the lines between professional and personal increasingly blur. I’ve shared that my annual update embraces both sides and that I receive some amazing responses. I’ve also opened up with this blog and am a lot less fussy about such personal / professional distinctions.
However recently I’ve had a spat of FB requests from people with vaguely familiar names that I just could not place. So I started to adopt my LinkedIn practise and send a brief message requesting help to remind me of how we know each other.
In most cases, the responses reveal some distant professional connects. As in we briefly met in a professional setting like 10 years or more ago?! As in once… maybe… Or heard me speak… Or some friend of a friend who worked in the same organisation I did mentioned me at some point… you get the picture.
I find this puzzling. Why not track me down on LinkedIn? Why, if we are already on LinkedIn, are these folks waking up a decade later to connect on FB when we – let’s be fair – barely know each other?
Am I the odd one out actually thinking FB ‘friends’ should actually be ‘friends’ or at least social acquaintances??
Personal to Professional
My partner is the opposite to me in the FB vs LinkedIn equation. He often gets FB messages for work related assignments. FB for him has become a professional medium. I cajoled him into opening a LinkedIn account and he zoomed to over 500+ connects in days! Yet he barely uses it and needs to be prodded to post notices there.
He also has lively and often very entertaining twitter exchanges. He enjoys poking fun at various absurdities and gets a reaction too! Yet with twitter he carefully choses who he follows whereas my twitter handle is mostly for this blog, so I’m happy to follow folks with common interests without actually knowing each other!
However my partner has a different challenge. He is ‘known’ and so daily gets a barrage of FB requests. He’s run the gamut from ignoring completely to, more recently, obsessing over gently redirecting to his official FB page. He is perilously close to FB limit for a personal page and for 95% of the recent requests, that’s where the connect belongs. What provokes him is after her takes the trouble to redirect and delete the personal page request, the same person pops up again on the personal page begging ‘Sir! Please Sir! Accept my friend request Sir ji!!’
He also has ‘look alike’ FB pages – using his name, photos but are not actually run by him. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the random ‘Sir ji!’ requests went there to disappear into a social media black hole??
Sure, I know anything you put ‘out there’ becomes public domain to some degree or the other. However isn’t Facebook supposed to be for friends? And LinkedIn for professional connects? Or am I just an old social media ‘fuddy duddy’ thinking there should be some kind of actual connect?