The “dividing line” between “personal” and “business,” if indeed there is any, was a hot topic in a recent panel discussion in which we participated on the subject of Online Social Networking (or OSNW for short).

What emerged from the various panelists were very divergent philosophies about just where that dividing line is. In fact, it seems, there is no consensus on just what constitutes privacy.  (Welcome to the wired world, you world-weary folks out there!!!)

One panelist emphasized he maintains two very separate identities for OSNW, one in which he wears his business hat, the other in which he projects some of his own personality as a citizen of the wired world. Another panelist cautioned the audience against the dangers of “LOL” (not “laughing out loud,” in this instance; but rather, “living out loud.” That is, allowing too much of your personal life to overlay your business and professional presence online. Especially in the case of job-hunting. Especially in the case of credit applications. Especially in the case of grad school applications, too.) There is no end to the “LOL” horror stories out there, she said.

Other panelists — it was clear that one’s generation can shape one’s views on privacy — had a whole different take on “LOL.” One panelist noted that her organization encourages its employees to blend personal and professional content online, as a means of “positioning” the organization’s overall brand, but also as a means of helping the individual staff person create a “personal brand,” as well.  Another panelist noted that her business life and personal life had very gradually become intertwined over time, and now there may be no way to disassemble the two. Still another panelist added that “transparency” — being very clear that “what you see is what you get” and not trying to be something you are not — was a key to gaining and keeping credibility in the OSNW realm.

So, different OSNW users approach the question differently. But, before clicking the “submit” button on any OSNW update, it is only wise to ask one’s self, “is this ‘personal’? Or is this ‘business’?” And, “does it matter which?” Then, let fly.

And, finally, get back to work!!!

Be sure to follow STOC on Facebook.

Also see “Which networking tool suits you?” and “How much time can you afford to spend on Online Social Networking?” elsewhere in this blog. And, periodically re-visit RigerJabber for more “take-aways” from the STOC panel discussion, appearing in coming weeks.

Which social media tool is right for your business? For a brief overview of the OSNW toolbox, (authored by Riger’s Jamie Jacobs), go to: “From Tweets to Blogs: Social Media Strategizing for Your Business” in this blog.


Peter Cronk, Managing Partner