Do you dress up or down online?

I’ve raised the topic of social networking and Facebook at a number of recent meetings and was interested to read a post: PR Squared: Public Relations and Facebook

My own feeling is that the personal nature of Facebook doesn’t really make it suitable for professional public relations use.  I have set up a couple of groups at Facebook, one for members and the other for former colleagues at the consultancy PRISM.

I don’t see these as being about professional connections but about helping people in either group keep in touch with fellow Facebookers who share this common link.

I use my own Facebook to be me – so as with my blog, it has personal and some professional content.  My friends, include one journalist, who opted to contact me.  I don’t have a problem with that – but would probably expect him to email me rather than use Facebook to keep in touch professionally.  But I don’t mind either way.

For me, one of the mindshifts necessary in understanding social media is that people on line are 3D rather than the more 2D persona that they might present if you meet them only through a professional or personal connection.  And that suits me fine since I don’t create many barriers between who I am virtually or in reality – from dogs to diplomas, aged cats to car companies.

In automotive public relations that has generally been the case in that we make friends as much as professional contacts.

Having said that, I can understand that this doesn’t apply to everyone – and certainly not to their corporate masters or IT gatekeepers if they are working in-house.  So I am using the to set up a professional networking group for the automotive press fleet administrators. 

This aims to be a forum where we can share professional questions and information – and I feel that is more appropriate on a platform that is not as overtly personal as Facebook. 

Just like there are times for to dress up or dress down (shoes or no shoes), lunch in a restaurant or the pub, I think there need to be different online places to network depending on the nature of your relationship.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.