Make your Facebook profile a professional networking tool

Look out generations Y and Z — there are new “kids” on the social networking scene. Baby boomers are quickly taking to Facebook, and they’re not just connecting with friends and family. They’re also leveraging the site’s potential to create professional networks and online resumés.  Read on and learn how to make your Facebook profile a professional networking tool too.

So it seems that nearly everyone is getting in on the Facebook explosion. Age aside, if you’re considering joining Facebook for professional purposes you must decide whether to dedicate your site to business or social use, as the content for the latter might not be appropriate for the former.

This problem can be overcome by combining the two and carefully filtering the site’s content, or by simply creating two profiles — one for social use and the other to promote your company, organization or craft. From there concentrate on producing content that is as organized and polished as possible; this is key to creating an authoritative first impression.

Check out our five expert tips below to get started.

1. Know your audience.

Keep in mind what you want potential employers and customers to see on your profile.

  • Fill out the profile sections as you would write a resumé, highlighting accomplishments, responsibilities, goals and so on.
  • Keep content as relevant to your professional aspirations as possible, and keep important information you want users to notice first on the front page, below your photo.

2. Simplicity is best.

Avoid the use of widgets, extra photos, graphics, gifts, irrelevant links and similar clutter. Limiting the many fun tools that Facebook allows is just one decision professionals have to make when using the social networking site, says job search expert Alison Doyle in her article, “Facebook and Professional Networking: Should You Use Facebook for Professional Networking?

Limit the frivolous apps you add to your profile; instead, choose those that provide value and are applicable to your work, like the ten apps highlighted by ReadWriteWeb.

3. Appearance is everything.

As when working in a traditional office setting, be sure that you promote a professional appearance on your profile. You should use your complete name when setting up your account and select a photo of you wearing typical business attire. Limit access to your photo albums by using the site’s privacy settings.

If you maintain a blog that might shed light on your interests or personality, link to it in your profile — but use caution when linking Twitter feeds to your Facebook status. Consider allowing your tweets, however, to go straight to your Facebook wall, a step that will increase the variety of content that appears on your site.

4. Learn about privacy settings — and use them.

Familiarizing yourself with Facebook’s privacy settings can help you hide information in your profile from some users while still allowing colleagues to see your work and education information. When networking it makes sense to let Facebookers view your profile photos and “Education and Work” sections. If you don’t want everyone to see where you work or where you went to school, you can customize your privacy settings to individual users.

Using privacy settings effectively is absolutely essential as you make your Facebook profile a professional networking tool.

5. Reach out.

Now that it looks good, use social networking to leverage your professional Facebook page’s ability to show what you can do. Establish connections with former and current coworkers by using Facebook messaging. Be selective about whom you choose as friends; once added, friends can see information about each other through your profile.

Link to work sites and pages of relevant organizations, allowing profile visitors to learn even more about your professional pursuits. It’s also a good idea to join groups relevant to your career interests; these groups might provide opportunities to add new friends of similar careers or to attend events and activities that will allow you to network in person. Use Facebook’s many applications to find professional, face-to-face networking events.

In addition to the suggestions above, here are two extra tips to make your Facebook profile a professional networking tool:

  • Show off your philanthropic side by using the Causes app. You’ll support nonprofits and look great while doing it.
  • Consider taking advantage of Facebook’s paid advertising, which allows you to connect with potential employers and customers.