When I give presentations and people ask if they should be on LinkedIn or Facebook or both, I tell them that both social networking sites fill a similar function but that the social “rules” are very different.
LinkedIn is like a professional meeting or face-to-face networking function. You know how to dress (no jeans or sexy clothing) and mingle with people.
You know that you don’t pick up chicken with your fingers or talk too much about yourself (the best networkers always ask lots of questions of the people to whom they’re talking).
In short, “business professional” is a mode of behavior and dress that we all know and feel comfortable with.
That’s why many people like LinkedIn — it feels comfortable and familiar.
Facebook, according to the anecdotal evidence I hear, causes anxiety. This is because Facebook is like attending a Saturday BBQ at your boss’s house.
The event itself brings up a whole host of questions for which the rules aren’t clear — especially if you’re in corporate or work for a conservative company:
Which clothes should you wear? For women, this is particularly tricky: can you wear the sexy sundress or should you stay with something more modest?
Can you eat that BBQ chicken and corn on the cob with your fingers — which can become pretty messy — or stick with something safe?
Should you drink?
Do you bring the spouse? The kids? The pet dog?
What do you talk about? Business? Personal? The books you’re reading? What if you don’t read and watch trashy reality TV shows instead? Is that something you want everyone to know?
Now I know many people use Facebook quite well for both business and pleasure — and that they’re able to keep their personal lives separate from their business lives via the judicious use of groups within Facebook.
I also know that people feel quite relieved when I tell them they really don’t have to use Facebook for business.
In fact, many people tell me they use it only to keep up with far-flung family and don’t use it for business — that’s why they use LinkedIn.
And some people even admit they don’t have a Facebook page at all.
Here’s the bottom line with regard to social media: Do what makes you feel comfortable.
Along that note, I decided to delete my Facebook profile altogether.
After reading The Power of Less, I decided it was time to simplify my life, including my online life.
So, I deleted my profile in order to stop worrying about the fact that I had a profile that I virtually ignored.
How do you use Facebook and/or LinkedIn — and how do you feel about each one? I’d love to hear your story.