Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About Work

Men talking

As a response to my previous post about sprinkling some personal tidbits into your professional online spaces, I also want to mention that bringing my work into my personal network from time to time has also paid dividends.

By “personal network” I mean things like my personal Facebook profile (as opposed to my Lift Development page), my family blog, and even just my day to day conversations with friends.

By “time to time” I mean not constantly pushing work-related news, advice, and pitches through to my personal network. Instead, my approach is to occasionally share some news about my business, whether it’s the launch of my own website or the launch of a client site that I’m really proud of. Maybe it’s a really good article about something web-related.

I expect the same from others. If they’ve recently gotten a job promotion or helped out with a noteworthy project, I want to hear about it.

The benefit of sharing noteworthy tidbits

I’ll go back to the launch of the 2010 version of LiftDevelopment.com as an example. Once I had the site finished up and launched, I posted a quick status update on Facebook to let folks know that it was live. Within a day or two I already had several inquiries from folks in my network who needed a good web developer. These were college friends, past clients from previous employment, etc.

This is also my approach in actual one on one conversations as well. If I’ve recently worked on a project that is relevant to the person I’m talking to, I might bring it up casually in a conversation. For example, if I know the person I’m talking to is a golf fanatic, I might mention the work I’ve done for Iconic Sport and some of the awesome golf shows that Leslie (Iconic owner) gets to attend. And I NEVER end that conversation with a pitch. Whatsoever.

The reason I do this is just to remind folks that I’m a web developer. That’s it. If in the future they happen to need a web developer, maybe I’ll pop into their mind. But they are a friend first, and that’s what is important to me.

The problem with sharing too much

There’s a Proverb that says “He who restrains his words has knowledge” (Proverbs 17:27). Let’s substitute “words” with “tweets”, “statuses”, or whatever else you can think of. Sometimes it seems like talking about your field as much as possible demonstrates expertise, but I don’t think it does. I think making sure you’re sharing the good stuff helps. I think being helpful does more to help.

Here’s my main reason for keeping a handle on how much I talk about work: I want my friends and family to feel like friends and family. I don’t want them to feel like a mass pool of prospective clients. Now, if the majority of the folks that you’re connected with on Facebook ARE prospective clients, then by all means talk shop all you’d like. But for me, I tend to connect with family, friends from high school and college, and the occasional client. I can honestly say I’ve never added someone because I considered them to be a prospect.

Also, talking about work doesn’t mean tooting my own horn or sucking up to people. I’m not going to tell you to go check something out just because it’s for one of my clients. Instead, I should be telling you what exactly I’ve been helping them with and ask for honest feedback.

On a larger scale

My experience and methods for sharing to my personal network are mostly relevant to smaller businesses. However, I have several friends that work for bigger agencies and corporations who share occasional stories and pictures from their jobs. I love this because it gives good insight into the culture of their companies.

One friend works for an advertising agency whose office is located directly behind the left-field wall of Target Field. They often have work parties on the roof of their building during Twins games. Usually pictures are shared and I am jealous every single time. As the employer, this is an awesome way to spread the word about the sweet aspects of working at the company. Encourage your employees to share and give them an experience worthy of sharing.

Which of your networks and social profiles are you using for work, and which are personal? How do YOU share?

 Image by lovelornpoets

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About Dave Yankowiak

I have been a full-time web developer since 2003. I am happily married with three wonderful little daughters and live in beautiful Grand Rapids, MN. When I'm not coding away on a website I'm usually fishing, canoeing, camping, hiking, playing guitar, or reading a good book on the iPad.

Comments

  1. Of course…as soon as I hit “publish” on this post I realized that I forgot to mention the use of grouping features to distinguish your personal and professional contacts on sites like Facebook and Google+. That way you can selectively choose which contact groups see each of your shares, thus avoiding bombarding your friends and family with “work stuff.” Good method for folks who have a single profile.

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