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Experts Caution Workers About Social Networking Sites

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
April 27, 2009

As more people connect to each other through social networking Web sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, experts are warning workers to exercise control over what they post and with whom they connect.

The New York Times, responding to a query regarding how to reply to business colleagues requesting access to Facebook pages, advises employees to proceed with caution. Juliette Powell, a career consultant and author, noted that it's important to establish boundaries.

"If you have something online that you wouldn't share openly with people in the office," she said, "you probably want to think twice about inviting them in."

While many have lauded the benefits of social networking sites, with some even utilizing them to aid in job searches, a growing number of people are realizing that too much networking may not be a good thing. CNBC.com relates how one person, after being hired by a company, ruined his chances of getting his dream job by sending a message through Twitter. "Start new job Monday," said the tweet, "but company I really wanted to work for just offered me my dream job." The "dream job" recruiter saw the comment and became annoyed that the candidate never mentioned accepting another position. Consequently, the offer was rescinded.

"Be careful of what you post," said Jammie Gessein, MIS network engineer at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, who was quoted in Network World. "I know users who post anything on everything on these sites. It is at times almost a contest to see who can outdo whom." He noted that posted information remains for years and can come back to haunt people if a job recruiter investigates.

The Times points out that photographs can also become a nuisance, especially on Facebook, where someone's approved contacts can "tag" a user in a photo, regardless of how unflattering the pose or the situation may be.

"Any time the camera comes out these days, there's a chance the resulting photos will be on the Internet within hours," said Nathan T. Wright, founder of a social media strategy firm in Iowa, who was quoted in the Times. "If you're going to have work people on these sites, you need to understand this threat."

Experts advise employees who wish to avoid colleagues on certain social networking sites to respond by explaining that they would rather put all work contacts into one particular social network, such as LinkedIn, which is meant for business connections. Additionally, Facebook's new privacy settings allow users to organize friends into specific lists and choose what information each person can access.

Above all, be honest and consistent, said Rachel Weingarten, president of a New York-based consulting firm. "The last thing you want is to accept some requests but decline others, then have the people you've rejected find out they didn't make the cut," she noted.

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