Ask Attorney Jennifer B.: How to Stay Professional on Social Media
Having a social media presence is more important than ever, especially for those of us working from home who want to maintain a sense of interaction with the outside world. Social media allows us to have a broad reach across our connections, both business and personal, making it possible to use it for entertainment and business. With some compromise, and by following the tips below, social media can be used in many ways to allow us to connect:
Use Different Platforms for Different Purposes
There are some social media sites such as LinkedIn that lend themselves to business networking, whereas other platforms like Instagram or Facebook may be better suited for personal use. There is nothing wrong with designating certain platforms to focus more on business while using other sites for personal, non-business interaction. However, keep in mind that on whatever site you post, and despite your privacy settings, you need to expect that it will be seen by future clients, business colleagues, or other professionals, so think before you hit “post.”
Remember Who You Are, No Matter Where You Are
You don’t stop being a professional even when you are living your personal life. Social media is unforgiving, in that once you post something, it can follow you forever. Remember that as a professional you should not post anything that would be offensive or would in any way violate your ethical obligations as an attorney. Moreover, many law firms have social media policies. Figure out if your firm does and make sure you are not violating it with your posts.
Working at home has many of us longing for that human connection. Nonetheless, when you are using social media, cautiously connect. Just as you would choose your friends and connections with whom you spend your time in real life, social media connections and friends should be no different. You don’t need to connect with everyone who reaches out to you – some people are just looking to increase their social media circles without any discretion. Think about why you are connecting with someone before you do so. Do you have any common connections? Is there a business reason to connect with the individual? Social media works not when you have a large number of connections, it works when your connections mean something to you and they are truly interested in what you have to say or what you are doing. So carefully choose with whom to connect.
Use Social Media to Engage Thoughtfully
To get the most out of social media, be an active participant. Create content that is useful to your connections or helps them to see another (positive) side of you. For example, you can post about your recent accomplishments or an article or blog post you wrote. Share information about your practice area or comment thoughtfully on a connection’s post. The more you actively engage with others, the more that you will derive from social media. Though, here again, post with discretion and remember you are a professional. While you may be inclined to share every detail of your day, every day, oversharing is unnecessary and may, in fact, have the unwanted effect of annoying your connections, cause them to change their opinion about you, or at worst, completely disconnect from you.
Undoubtedly, social media is an important tool for connecting. It is a great way to reach others and to stay informed and connected. With some forethought it can be a useful and entertaining way to network and to keep connections alive, both personally and professionally, especially when connecting in person is impossible.