In our recent blog post – Social Media Etiquette, Professional Networks – we addressed the importance of using social media to build professional networks. In Part 2 of our series, let’s address personal networks. Everyone has a personal network. These are friends, family, former or current colleagues – anyone we associate with on a frequent basis. And the majority of us have moved our personal networks online. Here are our thoughts on “social etiquette,” as it relates to personal social media networks. While it’s best to keep professional and personal networks separate, we can’t stress enough that anything you say online will reflect upon you. So there really is no delineation today between a professional and personal online network.

It should also be understood that the same social graces you were taught and follow offline should be translated into your online world as well. That said, you should behave online the say way you would offline. Online communication has many falsely assuming that they can say almost anything, with the protection of the “computer screen” to guard against them. This is not true. In fact, you may want to be even more cognizant of your online behavior for the sole reason that people outside of your social network can access your postings. As a result, you are a sum total of your network. What you say online not only impacts you, but anyone involved in your personal network. Airing dirty laundry, posting rants and raves or unsavory images not only impacts how you are perceived outside of your inner circle, but also every individual in your online world. It is always best to be considerate of those around you.

Just because you can have thousands of “friends” online, it doesn’t’ mean you should have them. No one wants to decline an invitation, so sending out random requests for friend invites, or Twitter users to follow you is not always the best approach. Vet those you invite into your personal network. Be selective. Its’ best to only invite people you know or want to develop an affiliation with. Sometimes you should take your conversations offline. The beauty of online communication is it’s quick and easy and provides wider-access to people. Some conversations; however, are better had in person – or verbally. Many times what you say online can be misconstrued or interpreted by others. Sensitive or highly personal conversations are best had offline.

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