Social Networking – Why and How?

Social Networking is a very talked about topic now a days, and it is an important phase where we all need to be there be it Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Orkut, Linked In or any such social networking site. And it is not just for fun or connecting with friends and family but the trend is catching on for job openings, business opportunities, surveys, mass communication, journalism and what not. But while we do enjoy being there and do tweet about what is happening in life, there are certain things we need to be careful about as well.

First, let us see the benefits of being part of such social networking sites:

You Can Choose your friends: In this highly individualistic society, social networking helps to banish that tinge of loneliness one may feel in a crowd. Here, you can communicate on a one-on-one basis with someone whose profile interests you. Also, there is a chance to choose your friends who are like minded and have similar interests. If you are the kind of person who feels uncomfortable meeting and connecting with people physically, online networking is just the tool for you. You can easily meet people, discuss things, take and give help online without leaving your comfort zone.

Networking also helps in reaching out to as many people as possible. The motive should not just be to get help when required, but also to support and help others. Instead of making acquaintances, try to find people you feel easier connecting with and try to make friends. Be focused and networking can open a whole new world of opportunities for you.

Career Opportunities: Informal deals that work out fine for both parties are negotiated at an astonishing pace through specialized sites all over the world. This includes hiring, trading, freelancing, share broking, etc. Today everything is done on the social networking sites, from job interviews to public opinion surveys and so on.

Role models and opportunities: Getting to know someone in your field with whom you’ve been seeking an introduction with a view to furthering your career also becomes easy if you find the person on a particular site and initiate a conversation.

Here are some don’ts also, which we should keep in mind while we are on such sites. Make sure you don’t do any of these things which can create problems.

Keep distance in office and private life

Social networks are where all our friends are, and in the current workplace scenario, also many of the people we work with. Though it is quite a different discussion whether it is correct to add your colleagues to your online social circle, it is of importance that you are careful about the words you speak, the personal details you share and office troubles you vent out on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The boundaries that divide professional and personal contacts are increasingly becoming blurred and colleagues with whom you spend most part of the day are often the same people with whom you go out for an occasional lunch/dinner/drinks. However, it is important to be clear about exactly how much of your personal life you want to share with them.

Do not discuss office politics or interpersonal work issues with people from workplace, and be careful about the details of your life outside work that you casually share with your boss or teammates lest it overrides your work and begins to define you.

Mind your words while Blogging

Everybody has a right to opinion and freedom of speech. However, what is required is the right judgment about where to use it and how. For example, many employees blog about their life and work life often forms part of that chronicle; if you too blog about your day at office, are you cautious enough to preserve the identity of those other than you and also to refrain from disclosing classified job-related information?

While in office- prioritise your work

How you utilize your time in office, especially when using the internet reflects a great deal on your productivity and your professional image. Surfing for vacation spots, making online purchases and chatting without discretion during office hours not only takes focus off work, but also labels you as someone with a casual attitude towards work. Reserve after-office hours for such activities or at most limit personal internet usage during lunch hour.

Then again, check your company policy on internet usage; many companies restrict the sites employees can visit while in office and most also monitor the web usage for any kind of offensive material being downloaded or circulated. Be a responsible employee and restrict internet use as a work tool to download and communicate official information.

Be discreet about what you post. Stay clear of voicing on controversial and opinionated topics. A tete-a-tete over weekend with friends is the best way to discuss and vent about workplace issues; also do not post derogatory images, comments and jokes that can be stumbled upon by both current and prospective employers. A reflection of your character, these will only damage your professional image.

Be careful about who has access to your profile on social networks: Tune the privacy settings to control your online visibility. Many people are nowadays maintaining separate network accounts for friends and work contacts, allowing you to connect with co-workers outside office yet keeping an overall professional front.