While it may seem silly to some, I briefly struggled with deciding to become Facebook friends with one of my clients. What if I said something wrong? What if a friend posted an unflattering photo of me? How comfortable would I be if he saw all the photos I share of my family members?
For years, my generation, the Millennials, was told to be cautious of oversharing on the internet. We've grown up in a world where every accident and every rash tweet is indexed and archived away. Who could blame me for being wary?
Whether you think you should become Facebook friends with your clients or not, I'm very happy with my decision. During my client's quarterly trips to the states, we crammed in as many stories about jazz, travel and, of course, craft beer as we could. In between, we'd get to know each other better over a course of Facebook comments, likes and messages. He'd share his magnificent travel photos with family, and I'd share some of my writing. I remember he sent a personal message on Facebook about how much he enjoyed reading my personal blog. He told me he spent hours reading it. Hours. I was taken aback. He was a busy guy. Always on the road, traveling somewhere new. I was touched he would take hours out of his day to read something I wrote.
His words stay with me, particularly after I learned of his recent passing. He made me realize all your passions - be it photography, travel, writing, yoga, cycling, horseback riding, technology. These passions are your +1. They give you your creative edge. These things you love so much make you better - in your career and as an individual.
How can you separate your personal life from your professional life when they are intertwined? You shouldn't shut off who you are when you go into work or when you leave. Unless, maybe, your name is Norman Bates. Why strip away your personality, when it is the very thing that makes you interesting and dynamic?
As the Millennials advance in their careers and move into positions of power, I imagine the attitude of what "professionalism" means will change. Shouldn't you present yourself, both online and in real life, as the most honest, true version of yourself? If you do this, becoming Facebook friends with a client wouldn't be nearly as big of a deal.
What do you think? Are you friends with clients or colleagues on Facebook? What about Twitter?