Surfing Facebook might not strike you as the most productive way to spend an afternoon at work. But as increasing numbers of professionals are finding, the social networking site isn't all about trivial status updates and holiday snaps. Here are CIO UK's top five tips for using Facebook to improve your professional standing:
1. Give your profile a professional slant:
There are myriad Facebook Apps that can help enhance the professionalism of your profile. My LinkedIn allows you to connect to your LinkedIn profile, while Extended Info lets you think up additional fields for your profile alongside the usual activities, interests and favourite music. Add your career goals, proudest workplace achievement or current reading material. It's also worth looking into Facebook groups relevant to your profession.
2. Keep your profile current:
With more than 500 million active users, the popularity of Facebook is huge and if you're not on it, you could be missing out on opportunities. But the trouble with the site, as with any social network, is that profiles get stale Keep yours current and give people a reason to keep visiting by setting up automatic updates to your blog posts, Twitter feed or any other relevant business presence online.
3. Draw on the expertise at your fingertips:
Your Facebook friends represent a vast network of knowledge and expertise that could help you to improve your work performance or find new opportunities. More forward-thinking CIOs increasingly realise that far from something to be feared, Facebook can also help enhance internal communications and collaboration in their organisation – particularly where employees are spread out across different locations and timezones.
Of course, it's also worth being aware of the risks...
4. Be careful what you say: Don't do what one of Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch's job applicants did and include inappropriate information on your profile. "I recently visited a job candidate's Facebook profile, which duly revealed: 'I like sleeping at work and nicking stuff'," Lynch told CEO UK. Needless to say, he did not make the shortlist. Yes, you might use Facebook to organise your social life, but you should never forget that what you post is accessible to your colleagues, managers – and potential future bosses. And, thanks to digital archiving, that material will never go away.
5. Know who your friends are: With this in mind, you would also do well to think carefully about who you accept as a friend. One woman, who reluctantly agreed to friend requests from a number of managers several rungs above her at her company, lived to regret it. "One of the worst moments was when my boss messaged me at 11 o'clock on a Friday night and said, 'Why are you still online? Aren't you working tomorrow?' I was sitting at home with a glass of wine in my hand and I thought, 'That's too weird'."