Business vs. Personal Networking Factors

by Jay Deragon on 10/07/2007

Business vs. Personal Networking Factors

A question was recently asked on Linkedin Answers feature which says “How has your experience been using LinkedIn & Facebook?”  Close to forty people to date responded and much discussion ensued about the differences in using Linkedin for Business purposes vs. Facebook for personal purposes.  The tone of the answers to the open Linkedin questions was interesting with many saying they use linkedin for business and Facebook for personal. 

One member of Linkedin wrote“Like most of the other answers here, I use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for personal connections. I have recently started receiving many friend invitations on Facebook from business acquaintances, but have yet to accept any of them.”What is interesting about many of the comments to the Linkedin open question relative is the dialog around rationale for differences between business and personal objectives using social networks. .  Do people understand that regardless of where you appear and what you say it is easy to find whether you participated for business or personal reason?

Gordon Haff , author of the blog, “Connections” writes: “There’s an interesting post to check out by the Fortune technology staff that discusses whether people will maintain separate profiles for their personal and professional lives–and whether those profiles will reside on separate social networks. The discussion builds on an interview with LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye in which he said people will build one profile for their personal life and another for their professional life.

The argument, self serving as it is, makes a certain amount of sense. Not good to have a prospective employer stumble on to those photos of you freshman year in Delta Kappa Epsilon.”“Now, I’m sure that some of the radical transparency/Web 2.0/etc. advocates would argue that there is no such thing as separate professional and personal lives. At some level, I suppose that’s true if by “not separate” one means that there are any guarantees that wild drinking stories posed on the Web aren’t going to be found by a prospective employer. However, I’m unconvinced that for most people personal and professional lives are quite as intertwined and inseparable as the blogging crowd and others in the coastal high-tech bubbles think they are.”

“In any case, the Fortune post then goes on to wonder whether such separation need be achieved by a standalone company like LinkedIn or whether it might be more logically implemented as an application on a social network like Facebook.” “Wouldn’t it at least be smart, then, for LinkedIn to deploy itself as an application on Facebook, given Facebook’s new open API strategy? Quite possibly, said Nye who pointed out that [LinkedIn founder] Hoffman was an early investor in Facebook, and that Facebook backer Peter Thiel also has money in LinkedIn. “We know each other well,” said Nye. “We like each other.” “Bottom line: the jury is still divided on how much consolidation to expect in social networks, but it will be interesting to see how all these real world social networks hold up when their virtual counterparts begin to merge, or falter….”

What is the difference?

Whether online or not business social networking is aimed at meeting people to either sell something to or get something.  Be honest.  Now in most settings the business relationships often crosses over to personal relationships.  Afterall, how could you get closer to your customer or supplier without learning about them personally?  However, the motivation for establishing business relationships is largely driven by economics.  Correct?

On the personal side of our lives we maintain and make new friends based on common areas of interest while not necessarily expecting any economic gains from those relationships.  That being said then the difference between personal and business networking is one of economic motivation.  While at the same time said business relations may turn into personal relations over time.  Think about how many of your current friends came from business relations and activities.

The real difference between business and personal networking seems to be in the area of functionality aimed at different purposes.  Sharing personal interest or facilitating business transactions requires choices to accomplish either objective.  The platform operators provide us with features and functions to choose from and use for whatever reason, whether personal or professional.  As the debate between which platform and for what reason continues it may settle on which “purpose” rather than which “platform“.

What say you?

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