Your New Coworker Wants to “Friend” You Online
Congratulations on your new job! Whether you are just starting out, or more seasoned in your career, you’re going to meet many new coworkers. Over time, some of them may become your personal friends, but the vast majority will be your colleagues for the duration of your employment, and perhaps part of your business network later.
“Are you on social media?”
As you get to know your coworkers, you should expect that many of them will ask if you have a social media profile. Or they may just search you out and send your a connection request. Here’s where it may get awkward. The following steps should help you navigate social media relationships with coworkers.
Step 1: Keep your public social media posts professional. Since you’ve already been hired, you probably have a neutral or professional-looking online presence. According to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers are checking your online profile1 before moving forward with an offer. So good job on being “work appropriate” in your online life!
Step 2: Draw a distinction between your professional and personal profiles. For many workers, LinkedIn provides a way to showcase your capabilities and indicate whether you’re open to new positions. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to set up your professional profile on LinkedIn.
Many people use Facebook or Instagram for personal accounts. Take a good look at Facebook’s privacy controls; we recommend keeping your profile private — accessible only to friends — unless you’ve got good reasons to make it public. Set your default sharing preference to Friends rather than Public. Some businesses use Facebook as a primary website. If you’ve got a full-time job, there may be restrictions on what “side hustles” are permitted by your employer.
Instagram is by nature a more public platform, but you can choose to set your account to Private2, so only followers can view your posts. Do you want your new manager to see your vacation pictures, or is that TMI? Consider using a Private profile, unless your goal is to recruit followers and become an Instagram influencer.
Step 3: If coworkers request connection to your LinkedIn profile, generally speaking you should accept in the interest of building your professional network. If coworkers request a “friend” connect on Facebook, we recommend that you tactfully decline. You could say that you keep Facebook for only friends and family. Most people will understand your desire to draw a line between your work and personal lives. Instead, offer an invitation to lunch or coffee as a way to make friendly connections in real life.
In workplaces where people mingle their personal and professional relationships, your wish to keep working relationships on a professional level may be a little off-putting. You can always choose to invite people into your online life after you get to know them well. You won’t regret taking it slowly, as once you’ve opened the social media door to your work life, you won’t be able to close it again.