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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Social Networking Etiquette in the Technology Age

By: Jorie Scholnik, Guest Blogger

If I was a betting person, I would wager that you probably checked your Facebook page today, if not multiple times. I say that because according to comScore, Facebook is the fourth most-trafficked website in the world with more than 130 million active users. Currently, more than 30 million photos are updated daily and there are over 55,000 regional, work-related, collegiate and high school networks. It is no surprise that with networking opportunities, more than half of Facebook users are now outside of college and the fastest growing demographic is those 25 years and older. Now, with the mix of college students and professionals being active on the same website, there are several etiquette issues that arise. Here are five tips to make sure that your social networking page is personal yet professional:

1. Remember that the Internet is a public space. You should only include items on your profile that you wouldn't mind seeing on the front page of a newspaper. Even with privacy settings, your information is still widely available to employers. Therefore, try to avoid posting racy photos or notes complaining about your boss.

2. Ask permission before posting pictures of your friends on your profile. Inappropriate pictures linked to a person’s name can cause embarrassment to an individual both personally and professionally. Keep in mind that because the pictures need to be manually removed by the person, they can be readily available to their potential employers for some time.

3. Avoid sending a friend request to people you work with. It could be considered inappropriate and crosses too many boundaries, especially if people want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. As a result of having co-workers as friends, you will always be on the clock and your profile will be a reflection of your professionalism.

4. Consider having both a personal page and a professional page. This is a good way to limit who can view each page, separate your profile content and network both personally and professionally. However, note that both of your profile pictures will come up if someone searches for you so both should remain clean.

5. Think twice before posting any content on your profile. Your profile is a reflection of your personality, demeanor, friends and professionalism. Once something is posted, people can save it even if you deleted the content from your profile. Because Facebook is so popular, people will form their opinions and judgments about you from the information on your profile.

Jorie Scholnik graduated from the University of Florida in May 2008 and is continuing there to complete her masters degree in mental health counseling. She has interned seasonally at The Protocol School of Palm Beach since June 2006. She is one of the 130 million active users of Facebook and has encountered multiple examples of employers and universities checking students’ profiles.

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