Your decision will be based on your personal social media habits, the culture and environment of your company, and possibly your job role and function.
As someone who works at Intel, in a social media capacity within recruiting (I’m the tweep behind the @LifeatIntel account this week!) , and uses social networks extensively to keep in touch with people I’ve met, my decision may be different from yours. Or not. (I’m also from Canada, went to college in the United States, had several internships, and I’ve been told I have the memory of an elephant where I can remember details and faces of people I’ve met briefly, but not necessarily their name–so social media helps me out.)
Whether you decide to accept your manager’s friend request on Facebook or choose to follow your colleague on Twitter, that’s up to you. But there are a few things you should keep in mind before you do:
Where are you connected?
Accepting a request on LinkedIn is a no-brainer (read: do it! It’s meant for professional networking), while you might pause before following them on Twitter, and sleep on it before coming to a decision on Facebook. That’s because each of the networks has a very different feel to it. LinkedIn is the networking event at work, Twitter is the post-event happy hour where people are loosening their ties and winding down after the day, and Facebook is the weekend party that some of your colleagues-turned-friends were invited to. Or at least that was the case a few years ago (but that’s a whole different blog post).
What do you share?
Social networks can be a great way to build relationships with your colleagues and keep in touch with those who have moved onto new roles, but it can also raise some eyebrows too. If you have pictures of you doing keg stands or frequently like to share your potty mouth through your profiles, then you might want to watch what you say.
Sure, you may go to happy hour with your coworkers or you might have shared stories about your wilder nights with some of them, but do you really want to go public with that information? A good rule of thumb for your posts: if you don’t want it printed in the newspaper, you probably shouldn’t post it. With that said, don’t clam up and stop sharing completely because of who is now seeing your posts–that defeats the whole purpose of social media. If it’s going to make you that uncomfortable, don’t accept the request. If confronted about a pending friend request, let he or she know that you use social networks as a way to keep in touch with only your close friends or people who you don’t see everyday, but because you have direct access to them at work, you’d prefer to stay connected in real life.
When do you share?
Tweeting during your staff meetings? Facebooking while on a call? If you don’t see how this can be a problem, then you’ve got something else coming. Unless this is part of your company or team culture, or part of your job, stay away from social networks when you should be focusing on work. It’s a different story to check during a break, but when you should be working, work! (Oh and if you’re checking in at the mall when you called in sick, you have a lot of explaining to do… )
So what do I do? I’m connected with many of my colleagues and coworkers through lots of social networking sites, but I also know how to use my privacy settings and am conscious about what I post. Bottom line: do what you’re comfortable doing.
Sejal is a Recruitment Marketing Project Manager at Intel. She is part of the team that is responsible for Intel’s global employment brand. This team helps connect candidates with Intel and Intel with candidates using channels such as the Jobs at Intel web site, the Life at Intel microsite and other Web 2.0 channels. Sejal specifically manages theJobs at Intel Blog and Intel’s recruitment Facebook strategy. Originally from Toronto, Ontario (yes—a real, breathing Canadian!), Sejal graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with her Bachelor’s in Communications before starting at Intel in 2008. When she’s not working, you’ll find Sejal working at crossing things off of her Bucket List (which includes skydiving, reading 1000 books, and traveling the world), eating cupcakes, or spending time with family and friends. To learn more about opportunities with Intel, visit intel.com/jobs, follow Intel on Twitter @JobsatIntel, or check out the Jobs@Intel blog!