Wondering if you should friend your boss & colleagues on social media? Maybe! But it depends on what kind of online personality you are.
I once tried to add a client slash manager as a friend on Facebook and they didn’t accept. The next time I looked at his Facebook, he had changed his settings so that you couldn’t send friend requests. Coincidence? Maybe. But I still took it kind of personally.
Maybe this guy was one of those people who likes to keep his work life and social life separate. I am not one of those people. So, if you’re looking for reasons to friend and follow your boss and colleagues on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you hang out virtually (LinkedIn, of course, is another story. You should connect with ALL your colleagues on LinkedIn), I’ve got them for you. I’ve also got reasons not to. Here are points for both sides:
Reasons to connect with colleagues and superiors on social media
Life isn’t effectively lived in silos. More people live life on a continuum these days rather than separating aspects into different compartments like “work,” “friends,” and “family.” That separation is often called “work-life balance,” as though “work” and “life” are things that need to be kept apart from each other in order to be in “balance,” and cannot be one and the same. I think that separating life into compartments means missing out on the potential for aspects of life to flow into, feed, and enrich each other.
Also, connecting outside of work, whether it’s in person or online (which is almost the only option right now, due to COVID) helps you build stronger relationships. Some of us are social people and we just like to make friends. We don’t see this great big division between “personal” people and “professional” people. I prefer this way of thinking. These days, a great number of connections are made online before they are made in person anyway.
Social media has become another way of demonstrating to someone that you find them interesting and likeable and that you want to know them. Those are good things. Everybody wants to be liked (well, except that client I just mentioned). And building relationships outside the workplace makes them stronger. Someone is more likely to speak well of, champion, promote, and recommend someone they know both personally and professionally, rather than just professionally. And online relationships often lead to real friendships. You have to start somewhere. If you keep all of your colleagues at arm’s length, don’t be surprised if nobody has your back should a time come that you need it. And, when it comes to your boss, it’s more difficult to fire someone you believe thinks of you as a friend.
Reasons not to connect with friends and colleagues on social media
That being said, you might not want to connect with colleagues and superiors on social media if there are aspects of your life that you want to hide or keep separate from coworkers, and if you’re afraid of what will happen if your boss or colleagues find out about them. For example, if you hold certain political opinions or enjoy activities that would be frowned upon and cause problems with your job. If this is the case, however, ask yourself if you should really be working in your current role. Maybe if you can’t be who you truly are during work hours, you should be making moves – even small ones – towards an environment that’s better suited to you.
There’s also the possibility that you’re just an asshole. This is something you might want to explore if you’re afraid of what your colleagues will think of you on based on your online behaviour. Is it because you post racist content or off-colour jokes? Do you insult people are get into fights? If so, you probably should consider changing your behaviour rather than just continuing with it and hiding it from colleagues. Because it’s not them, it’s you.
I always ask myself if I would be comfortable with my clients and colleagues seeing a social media post and, if the answer is no, I don’t post it. Or sometimes I take it down, if I forgot to ask myself first.
Finally, if you’re someone who doesn’t use social media that much, then there’s probably no point in worrying about it.
In short, if you’re wondering whether to connect with your work colleagues on social media platforms, and whether doing so will hurt or help your career, it depends on how and how much you use those platforms. And whether you are good at governing your own behaviour. If you’re not skip it, but you might want to take a look at that behaviour.
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