How to Connect with Professionals on Facebook While Limiting Your Personal Information
If you are connecting with your readers (or clients or business partners) on Facebook, there are some things you will need to consider. You want to keep these connections (rather than just decline the friend request), but do you want these people, who might not know you very well personally, to have access to all of your personal information, including photos, contact information, relatives, etc.?
Think of it like this…if you typically dress in business attire when you to go work or do a presentation, sharing your Facebook profile with the people you would see in those places would be like wearing your pajamas instead. I have always been very careful about the information I make public on the internet. I am not inappropriate and I don’t have anything to hide, but I wouldn’t want to show up to work in my pajamas…would you? There isn’t anything wrong with wearing pajamas in the appropriate setting, but there is a time and a place for everything. Your Facebook presence will make an impression on these professional contacts, so do everything you can to make it a good one, while keeping Facebook fun and interactive with your personal connections as well.
Facebook makes it very easy to create different levels of privacy for your “friends.” You can create friend “lists” and then change the privacy settings for those lists to ensure the different connections see only what you want them to see. It can take a bit of time to set these up, but once you do, all you have to do when you add a new friend is add them to the appropriate list and the privacy settings you have set up for that list are already limiting the information you want limited from that individual.
The types of privacy lists you need might vary depending on your different levels of interaction. I suggest at least creating the following two levels:
1. Protected – showing almost no personal details, photos, status updates and minimal contact information. In this group you might add your boss, clients, readers and other professional relationships where you would like to be connected, but not share personal content.
2. Limited – showing status updates and minimal contact information, maybe select photos and friend relationships, but less information than what your day-to-day friends can see. In this group you might add your coworkers and professional colleagues who you are comfortable with.
First, start by creating these list names. Call them whatever you want, but make sure the names are clear enough that you will remember which is which when you need to add friends to them. The names I use are the same as above. Within your profile, click on Friends. In the top right, click Edit Friends then click Create List. If you already have friends to add to these lists, do this now.
Once both lists are set up, click Account in the top right corner and select Privacy Settings. You will see a list of settings you can change by clicking on the box and selecting Customize. You can change each of these to “Friends of Friends,” “Friends Only,” “Specific People…” or “Only Me.” I consider myself a fairly private person and don’t want people I don’t know at all to see anything personal on Facebook, so most of these I have set to “Friends Only” other than my website. In the “Hide this from” section you can add the names of the groups you created where you want to protect certain information.
Here’s an example of how I have mine set up:
The first section is “Things I Share”:
Posts by me: Friends Only, except my Protected list
Family: Friends Only, except my Protected and Limited lists
Relationships: Friends Only, except my Protected and Limited lists
Interested in: Friends Only (I don’t have anything in this field anyway, so I didn’t add any privacy levels here, but some people might want to exclude their lists from this information)
Bio and Favorite Quotations: Friends Only
Religious and Political Views: Friends Only (I don’t have anything in this field anyway, so I didn’t add any privacy levels here, but some people might want to exclude their lists from this information)
Birthday: Friends Only
Places I check in to: Friends Only, except my Protected list
Include me in “People Here Now” after I check in: I have this enabled, but this is part of the Chat feature, which I manage another way, and I can cover that in another post.
Notice under this there is a link to change the privacy settings for existing photos. This can take some work if you have a lot of albums, but I suggest clicking here and changing the settings for each album so only the ones you are comfortable with these groups seeing are accessible for them.
The next section is “Things Others Share”:
Photos and videos I’m tagged in: Friends Only, except my Protected list
Can comment on posts: Friends Only (if your Protected list can’t see your posts anyway, they won’t be able to comment on them)
Suggest photos of me to friends: This setting is different. It’s either Enabled or Disabled. I have it Enabled.
Friends can post on my wall: I have this checked to be Enabled.
Can see wall posts by friends: Friends Only, except my Protected list
Friends can check me in to places: I have this Disabled.
The last section is “Contact Information.” This is important because unless you limit certain fields, clients may be able to see your personal email address, home address or cell phone number. You may or may not want this, so these settings will vary depending on your particular situation. Here is how I have these set up:
Mobile phone: Friends Only, except my Protected and Limited lists
Other phone: Friends Only, except my Protected and Limited lists
Address: Friends Only, except my Protected and Limited lists
IM screen name: Friends Only, except my Protected list
Login email address: Friends Only, except my Protected and Limited lists
To test these setting, at the top of the page click Preview My Profile. Type in the name of one of your friends from each of your new lists to see your profile as they see it. If anything needs to be modified, go back and change the setting and test it again. Now, when you add new friends, immediately add them to the appropriate list if you want any of your information limited from their view.
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