Many of us who use social media for both business and pleasure have noticed that we have created a space that has combined our professional and personal contacts. Some will recommend creating professional-only profiles on Facebook or directing new contacts to connect with you on LinkedIn, yet managing who is connecting with you and where can be a full-time job.
We had Gabi Delarosa Garza, Owner and Head Coach of Heart + Animo Coaching speak with our group about relationships and social media. She guided us through this conversation by asking us what were our overall intentions, how we use social media and how we use it to connect with others. We left with some powerful stuff.
Personal Social Media // Being Mindful
When active online, it’s easy to self-censor knowing a co-worker or potential client might see your opinion and disagree. So how can you be yourself without compromising your professionalism? It stems from what you think people think of you. If you’re not ready to put it all out there and face the consequences, don’t put it all out there. Also, consider the quality of the relationships you’ve created and maintained through social media. If these are important to you personally and professionally, be mindful of what you post. Is your rant about the driver who cut you off during 5 o’clock traffic worth it? When you take a step back and consider what you’re posting, you’ll realize a lot of it is nott necessary.
Most of us who have “grown up” with social media are no long angsty teens trying to figure out our Top 8 for the week. We are (hopefully) capable of having meaningful conversations with those we have connected with on social media. We have the power to voice opinions and listen. So how can we maintain these relationships?
- Be more intentional
- Be present
- Talk it out, agree or disagree, move on
- Be considerate
- Stay positive
- Be willing to disconnect/unfriend/block individuals who bring harm or negativity to you online.
How to Maintain Professional Boundaries
There’s always a little twinge of grief when a professional contact wants to friend you on Facebook. This is your sacred piece of the internet. This is where you share inside (and sometimes crude) jokes with friends and family. This is where your cousin, Linda, shares photos of her kids with you, and now someone you barely know wants to see that. So what do you do?
- Make your own boundaries and guidelines. It’s okay to tell professional contacts to follow or connect with you on another platform. Simply say “I’m more active on LinkedIn and Twitter, you can connect with me there”.
- Don’t be afraid to tell people “No”. They might find it standoffish but it’s okay to protect yourself and your network online.
- If someone begins to pry details out of you or harass you online, warn them about unfriending or disconnecting. There’s nothing wrong with placing someone on a restricted list if you are uncomfortable with them seeing everything on your profile.
- Adjust your privacy settings. Facebook has some of the best privacy settings compared to other networks. You can easily create a “Professionals” list and customize what that list sees on your profile. Take time to go through all the settings and see what works for you.
Kids & Social Media
Although I’m not a parent, I get a lot of questions about what parents should consider when it comes to social media and their kids. This is not an easy answer. Yes, science says it can over-stimulate and amplify crucial moments and growing pains of being a kid, which can cause problems like depression and anxiety. That alone should make parents wait. However, every family is different. Some are miles away and social media is the only way to stay connected. Other times, a viral video leads to opportunities that might be the entire household’s income. So what is a parent to do?
- For young children on their way to be Disney superstars via viral videos – hire a professional to manage their accounts. Also, go with your gut. If something feels wrong, DON’T DO IT.
- Have the highest privacy settings possible.
- Don’t let kids engage too much. Let them be kids.
- Listen. Kids can be more insightful than adults. If your child is not interested in taking another photo for the 500th time, take a break. Try again tomorrow.
- There’s a difference between taking a snapshot and turning your living room into a Pinterest backdrop. It’s fun to try new things and trends but save those photoshoots for milestones such as the first day of school, holidays or birthdays.
- Always talk to your kids about social media, the dangers, and the benefits.
When to Unplug
When was the last time you really unplugged? If you have to think about it for more than 30 seconds, it’s been too long. Yes, phones at dinner are no longer taboo and yes they can enhance a conversation but sometimes it’s okay to sit there and think about an answer to a question before asking Siri.
Everyone needs to take a break. With recent events and current political divides, social media can be overwhelming and a downer. Go ahead and log off, take a walk around the block, grab a magazine (yes, they still print those) and take that “What shoe is your personality?” quiz.
Most of all, be present in what you’re doing. You’ll find when you take breaks from social media, your performance at work will be better, conversations with friends will be richer, and you might even get a better night’s rest.
From staying in touch with family to reaching business goals, remember to always be intentional and mindful when using social media to maintain your relationships.