HR Learner in Development

Social Networking in the Office

Posted on: May 9, 2011

With the amount of social networking opportunities available with the click of a button, make sure you are in control and they don't control you. Be safe and smart about what you put online.

Social networking has had a massive overhaul over the past decade due to Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. While many buy in to the opportunities that these websites provide for staying informed, current, and active in their current companies and fields, these websites also come with caution.

Firstly, many people have forgotten when the internet first took off the level of information sharing caution. As parents would tell their children, don’t put anything personal anywhere. No addresses, no contact information that can be linked to who you are or where you are from. Some of these social networks take this information sharing for granted. Facebook, for instance, asks for city, address, phone number, etc. Even job searching websites almost mandate addresses because they are expected on your resume. Remember that not all individuals using these sources of information are trustworthy. While these websites strive to protect your information, it is still there. As soon as your information hits the internet, it is searchable. Just be smart what you are listing.

Now one of the major advantages of these social networking sites for professionals is that you can have communications with some of the leading thinkers in your field, should they actually use the internet as a medium, without having to travel far and wide. Collegial conversations can be struck with a few strokes of the keyboard, or even through video communications via Skype or other telecommunication tools. This is something that has provided a great advantage to those who wish to make these connections, and stay current in their field.

Again, the down side can be that these people, who wish to grow in their careers, may just hurt them if they do not use the networking tools correctly. Some things that may hurt their chances of making that connection meaningful include:

  • Inappropriate Picture
  • Inappropriate Language
  • Excessive persistence or page stalking

There are some legal aspects that need to be taken into consideration as well.  Divulging confidential information about a company has never been easier or more detrimental to an organization.  If an employee makes a big enough stink, the blog comment, status, or tweet could go viral and seriously affect the image of the company.  Long story short, think before you type. If your boss saw it, would (s)he be okay with what you just wrote?  Or would you be out the door in less than a week?

The very nature of social networking makes it possible for people to put themselves out there and be more visible.  But again, this is a medium which is still being tried and tested.  Let’s hope that the majority of this medium learns to fine-tune enough to make it a positive force for those who use it.  We’re just not there yet.

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