Thursday, September 30, 2010

Draw a Line In The Sand

I remember when I first started using Facebook, I quickly came to the realization that my profile wasn't going to be used for business purposes. I came to this conclusion not because I happen to own and operate a 'competing' product (Fast Pitch!), but simply because I never felt comfortable opening up my personal life to the professional world. And quite frankly, Facebook has never really established a perfect way to separate those two worlds.
The way I communicate to close friends and family on Facebook is very different from the way I communicate and present myself to the business world. The things I share, the comments I make, they belong on different platforms. I mean, do my friends and family really care about my opinion of the latest Internet technology? Do my colleagues in France even know who the Florida Gators are and that they're playing 'Bama this weekend?
During a presentation the other day, I likened the way many of you are combining your personal life with your professional life on Facebook to a law firm allowing a playpen to exist in the lobby. Imagine walking into their 'storefront' for an important meeting about a merger and seeing kids playing Farmville everywhere. My guess is you would begin to lose confidence in the firm and walk out.
Well guess what... if you've allowed a playpen or strong religious and political views to enter your virtual storefront on Facebook, chances are you've already alienated potential clients who will never do business with you. And even worse, how many of those people have shared their opinion of you with others? Worst of all, most of you have no idea it's even happening... do you?
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying abandon Facebook as a place to do business by any means. But there's a way to go about it the right way. Here's my solution:
Create a Fan Page for yourself
Here's mine: (http://www.facebook.com/bjula)
The next time a colleague Friend Requests you on Facebook, simply forward them to your personal fan page and explain to them that you keep your personal life separate from your professional life. Does it come across a little arrogant? Sure. But from my experience, 99% of the people will understand. In fact, the light bulb will probably go off in their heads, and they'll create their own.
Once they become a fan of your page, make sure you keep the conversation professional. Offer insight into your industry. Show them your expertise. Tell them about events you are attending... Use it to promote your Fast Pitch! Profile and share your press releases, blog articles, etc.
From what I've seen, it's time for many of you to draw a line in the sand when it comes to how you're using Facebook.

Bill


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