Which site is right for you ?

Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter.

Above are the main sites that make online social networking possible, but not every Kenyan feels bold enough to sign up for all of them.

If you're wary and currently still experimenting on them, a professional-friendly Facebook profile should do the trick. This is made possible with a little help from Facebook's privacy features. To draw the line between personal and professional use, I assign a Partial Profile setting to professional contacts to control what they can see in my profile.

What you get from me online is 100 percent me…but you don’t get 100 percent of me. It's good to cover your tracks, you just never know what spills over.

Here's a simple guide on how to create a professional-friendly Facebook profile. Go to the Edit Profile section of your profile to edit each of these areas:

You can get to the Edit Profile area by first clicking the Info tab, then the edit pencil in the top-right corner. Also, it may help to know that anytime you edit much of this information—such as changing your profile picture, your relationship status, your bio, etc.—a notice goes out to your friends in their News Feeds (unless you previously adjusted your privacy settings very tightly!).

Remember to click the blue Save Changes button on each section if you make changes!

  1. Use your full name as a brand. For e.g mine is “Felix Muchiri Waweru” because it's the name that I have been using for my earlier and current work. Avoid using maiden or married name. If you’ve used other names, try to fit them in somewhere logical, such as your “Info” tab. Cute nicknames portray a rookie in social networking.
  2. Maintain a smart profile. The profile has four sections: “Basic,” “Personal,” “Contact” and “Education and Work.” Fill out the information as completely as you can, but think about a potential client, employer reading the details. Under the Basic Information section, I strongly suggest not showing your year of birth as a layer of security.
  3. Choose the right profile photo. If you have a professional photo, use that. If not, pick a photo that captures you wearing the clothes that fit your style or what you would wear for a typical business meeting. Don’t try to be too dressy or too casual. You can post other photos of yourself under the “Photos” tab and assign privacy settings on a per-album basis.
  4. Think twice about linking to Twitter. Send only relevant tweets to Facebook using Selective Tweets on facebook. All you need to do is add the hashtag “#fb” to a tweet and Facebook posts it on your wall. Considering most Kenyans use only one social media application, they will feel confused and overwhelmed by your tweets especially if you use Twitter on a daily basis.
  5. Put your most important professional information on your profile home page. This is the paragraph that appears below your profile photo. What is the most important thing you want potential clients  and /or employers to know about you? What do they get out of working with you? Make it employer worthy. Be discrete. Instead of writing 'hot n sexy' or the like, adopt a more neutral handle and image.
  6. Use appropriate privacy settings. Some skeptic Kenyans have their profile settings so high that when someone searches for them, they only see a name. Well, you might not be the only one with that name in the world, which makes it harder for people to tell if they have the right person. I open my profile photos and “Education and Work” to everyone. This helps searchers know if they have the right person while letting them know what I do.
  7. Take advantage of privacy settings to limit access on a per-user basis. If I don’t know someone very well or only on a professional level, I give them a “Limited Profile” assignment. Those with this assignment can only see the parts of my profile that I open to them. You can also control who can view each photo album. For more personal photo albums, I customized the privacy settings to “My friends except for those on the Limited Profile list.”
Remember, don't put  anything in writing that you wouldn't want the people in HR or your clients to read. Even something said in joke can get you fired or lose a contract. Otherwise, away you go with poking.

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