Facebook has more than 1.26 billion users (as of October 2013) so we will assume that you already have a Facebook profile. The question really becomes how you use Facebook.
Is it an activity that is strictly personal or something that can be used professionally as well? If you want to present a professional face to the world on Facebook, we’ve got a few tips:
Clean up your Facebook profile
If you want to use Facebook as a networking tool, it’s smart to clean up your Facebook page before using it to connect with other professionals. Make sure your profile picture is pleasant (and not, say, of you at a fraternity party).
Also make sure your other pictures are work-safe and that there is nothing on Facebook you wouldn’t want a prospective employer, fellow lawyer, or work colleague to see. (Keep in mind your friends might have “tagged” you in unsavory photos. Here’s how to undo that damage.)
When in doubt, throw it out!
Check on your Facebook privacy settings
The privacy rules for Facebook keep changing, but you should consistently check on the privacy settings you have on your profile. You may want to stop others from posting on your timeline or tagging you in pictures. (If you want to learn more about Facebook privacy settings, you can do so here.)
It’s important to stay up-to-date on what others are able to access, because it might be a lot more than you think!
Think about what you post
I am sure at one point or another we have all said something on Facebook that we wish we hadn’t. In fact, I heard a newscaster today say one in four adults regrets something they have said on social media.
Once it’s on Facebook it’s out there in the universe, so make sure you think before you post — especially if you are using Facebook as a professional networking tool.
Don’t get discouraged if someone doesn’t want to be your “friend”
We each have pretty strict rules about who we will “friend” on Facebook.
If I don’t actually know you, I typically won’t accept your friend request. Don’t take it personally, though. We all have our own rules for social media. I just choose not to use Facebook much as a professional networking tool. You have to figure out what is right for you.
If you’re not sure it’s appropriate to reach out to a professional contact you barely know on Facebook, consider using LinkedIn instead. Because that’s fundamentally a professional networking site, people are often more inclined to accept requests from new professional contacts.
What is one of my favorite uses for Facebook? Asking for recommendations and connections!
Pretty frequently, I post something on Facebook to this effect:
“I am looking for an immigration attorney in San Francisco who can help an asylum client.”
And within minutes my network has reminded me that so-and-so from law school practices that kind of law, or his or her roommate can help me out.
If you are looking to network or meet folks in different practice areas, you should ask your network to help you. A statement such as:
“I am looking to meet immigration attorneys in solo practice for informational interviews”
can lead to some introductions that you might have never had. It is totally worth it!
Then, you can follow up and say, for example, “Jen, my friend from law school, recommended that I reach out to you.” You are much more likely to get a response that way.
Learn more about Pages
Pages can be a useful tool for networking and also for keeping abreast of current events and trends in the legal marketplace. (You can get more tips here on how to use Pages on Facebook.)
Don’t feel like you have to limit Facebook to personal use! Yes, there are some potential pitfalls, but — used wisely — it can help you build your professional network, too.
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And check out these other helpful posts:
- Legal Networking 101: How Do You Know What to Talk About While Networking
- Legal Networking 101: A New Definition of Networking
- Legal Networking 101: Don’t Be an A**hole
- Legal Networking 101: Networking Today Isn’t Like the Networking of Yesterday
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