Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Work / Life / Online Balance

Does social media feel overwhelming?

I was attending one of my monthly networking groups this morning and I heard from another friend about her concerns with social media. She mentioned balance. We used to think of it as work/life balance, right? You have work and then everything else is life, and you need to have a healthy balance. I am sensing a new dynamic should be added: work/life/online balance. For many people, the struggle is where to fit in social media, social networking and everything else you do online.

The core of the issue goes back to the fact that you feel like social media came out of nowhere and now it is just one more thing you have to do. Unfortunately, in this digital age, it is. Here is the good news: you can take it one step at a time and keep it to a manageable amount of time. Balance is truly the key. For many of you, staying on top of your online personal brand requires time outside of work, and therefore it must fit into your new work/life/online balance.

If you own a business or are responsible for marketing a business and feel the pressure to do it all at once, you can relax. Start with your personal brand online. Start with LinkedIn because I find that people are comfortable starting there, as they see it as the "professional" social network. At the same time that I am allowing you to take it one step at a time, I am going to tell you not to fool yourself. Any presence you have online needs to be representative of your professional personal brand. Facebook has privacy settings, which you should certainly monitor from time to time, however, if you have a Facebook profile, start making the transition to a more professional image there as well.

Your personal brand online is a reflection of your company or employer, which is why it is a good place to start. All social networks are based off person to person interaction. They are not run by organizations, but by individuals. If all individuals took their online presence seriously, their employers would feel less hesitation in using social media to communicate with their stakeholders. Start with you, and start with LinkedIn. If you haven't done so already, complete your profile and connect with everyone who lives in your Rolodex. Your goal should be to transfer your offline network to your online network. The two work best when used in conjunction with each other. Each time you attend a face to face networking event, add your new contacts to your LinkedIn network. It only takes a few minutes so I hope you can fit it into your already full work/life balance.