One of my clients was recently invited by a recruiter tobecome a Friend on Facebook. Thisclient had hoped to keep her Facebook personal and use LinkedIn forprofessional contacts. At the sametime, she wanted to develop the relationship with this recruiter and worriedthat Ignoring the request might be viewed as a rebuff. In the end, she contacted the recruitervia email to let her know that she wanted to connect via LinkedIn instead. Score one for boundaries.
Many people keep my client’s online boundary: Facebook for personal; LinkedIn forprofessional. When I recruited, Ideliberately chose LinkedIn for my research and sourcing because I didn’t wantto risk crossing that common boundary. It’s the same reason I tried a candidate’s work number first beforecalling home or cell.
If you would like to keep a personal and professional onlineboundary, then be consistent. Keepyour professional research and inquiries in one network and personalseparate. Realize, however, thatnot everyone feels this way, so you may have people reach out to you in waysyou didn’t intend (as with my client and the recruiter), and you want to dealwith these inquiries consistently. You will want to keep your personal networking profile as private aspossible if you indeed do not want it used for professional inquiries.
Another consideration is that the line between personal ourprofessional lives is often blurry, especially when we are in job search mode(and who isn’t these days, even if you are employed). You want people to be able to find you. Your friends are most likely to thinkabout you and advocate for you. Therefore, your personal network may be your strongest professionalleads. Before you delineatecompletely between personal and professional, know that what you gain inboundaries, you may lose in opportunities.
A compromise could be to toggle between your personal andprofessional networks of choice and make sure that everyone that you would liketo be in both networks are. Youwill need to invite one to the other, and make sure you update each site withthe relevant information. This ismore work and requires coordination. However, it ensures that you maintain the boundaries, but still reap thebenefits of integrating your personal and professional lives.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart(www.sixfigurestart.com), a careercoaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters.