Q: Hi Stever (and GIDG fans), I’m dreading creating separate professional twitter/facebook accounts because I don’t want to come up with another name (other than my own) and start building my network all over again. But I’m afraid I’ll bore my friends (who aren’t in my profession) if I start posting more career-related comments, and the overlap of friends/colleagues seems so inefficient to me. Is there any appropriate way to combine personal & professional social networks?

A: This is really hard, especially because businesspeople who want to see your personal life may realize you have two profiles and request access to the other one. (An employer would never ask to walk through your apartment before hiring you, but they’ll happily ask to see your Facebook profile.)

I would create a LinkedIn profile as my professional profile, and only give that one to colleagues. If they want access to my Facebook profile, I would politely explain that I keep that only for my non-work life and prefer not to mix the two.

If they object or complain, that’s valuable information that you’re working for (or about to work for) a company that does not respect your privacy and your boundaries. For me, that would be a huge red flag. Do you really want to spend your entire career with a company worrying about revealing your private life?

No matter what you decide, however, it’s still hard to control the information. If your “real” profile shares friends with a business colleague, they may see your private updates on the mutual friend’s wall, in their comments, etc., even though they can’t view your profile directly.

This is one of the interesting issues with social media: in the real world, humans can present themselves differently to different people and in different situations. Social media as we’ve implemented it makes that much, much more difficult. On one hand, it means we see each other, warts and all. On the other hand, I’ve met very few people who are accepting enough to forgive others’ perceived faults, which means displaying our warts could have bad social consequences. (Unless they’re shaped like four-leaf clovers. Those warts are universally admired and envied.)

Safely Using Social Media In Your Professional Lif…

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