Saturday, November 1, 2008

To friend or not to friend? That is the question.

As social networking creeps up from the teens and twenty somethings to my generation of forty-somethings and above, more and more people join who I didn't expect to see in this space. Not surprisingly, many hi-tech colleagues are also in this space. 

There is often a line each of us draws at work. I just work and go home, preferring to keep work and socializing separate; I work and sometimes hang out with colleagues; or my workplace is all of the socialization and hang out time I get because I work too much! 

This morning, I went online and decided to see who of my tech-laggard friends had joined Facebook based on a search of my email account. Wow! 84 contacts now had a Facebook account. 

As I scrolled, I had a decision to make. Many of these people are past colleagues and future clients. How much do we want to and should we know about each others daily lives? Is it good to "friend" your recruiter so she sees all of the posts that say "working"...or dangerous because she sees you put up a post at 1am that says "just got home from the bars?" (sadly, rarely the case for me) Should I be privy to photos of their kids in the pumpkin patch or their wild weekend in Bermuda? 

The workplace has definitely gotten more casual in recent years. It's interesting and curious to see if social networking will cause a backlash and have people opting out for privacy or if we will all be virtually connected and know far too much about each other's lives. Seems as if we are leaning towards the latter. 

I'm really curious to hear what others do or think. Please leave a comment about how YOU manage your online social networking for business and pleasure. 

1 comment:

Liz Bacon said...

Hi Janna,

Interesting question! I have different strategies for different contexts. I've chosen to connect with almost everybody on LinkedIn, from recruiters to former colleagues who are only acquaintances to people in my professional community whom I've never met in person to friends from college & town. On Twitter, I'm even more indiscriminate and have people in my Twitterverse whose names I don't even know. But I only connect with friends on Facebook, although this group definitely includes friends I've made professionally. Then also I maintain a private blog about my family life whose URL is known only to my family and very close friends. So the different networks run the spectrum for me. I just hope another one doesn't come along and make me re-think the whole schema. :)