This past weekend was a great one for me and my family. Saturday was my birthday and our son turned 4 on Sunday. We celebrated beginning Friday afternoon and it continued through breakfast this morning. 

One of the things that made the weekend so special was the outpouring of birthday wishes and greetings from friends and family on social networking sites. I heard from family members around the country, friends from long ago, former colleagues, as well as people I interact with daily. I had people share memories, renew old jokes, and send thoughtful wishes.

It was the best of what social networking can be.

It reminded me that social networking is not always as kind to people. Here are 3 tips to navigating it successfully:

  1. Never share when you won’t be home. It is so tempting to tell people about your upcoming amazing trip-of-a-lifetime to wherever. But, of course, when you tell your friends, you can also alert people who are not so friendly that your home will be empty during that time period. Also, don’t share while you’re on the vacation. “Day three at sea and six more to go!” is not a good social media headline for the same reason. Make us jealous after you're back home.
  2. Avoid certain topics that are used to elicit password information. For example, I saw someone recently post, “Let’s all share the name of our first elementary school.” No, let’s not share things that are often used for password authentication purposes. The same way I don’t post about my mother’s maiden name, my first pet’s name, the street I grew up on, and the like. Be aware that people can be up to no good; don’t overshare.
  3. It’s always better to keep it positive. Sitting at a keyboard can sometimes embolden people, and free them to say things online that they would never say in person. It is best to follow the Golden Rule in social networking. If you say or post something in anger, it is impossible to erase it from the internet. It will live forever and will be able to be found in a job interview, a divorce, a business negotiation, etc. Remember how we were told about a “permanent record” in high school which we found out later never really did exist? Social networking is the new (actual) permanent record. Make sure your entries into it are those you want read days, weeks, months and years later.

These are three simple suggestions to keep social networking a force for good in your life. Feel free to share your ideas for the best way to keep it positive.

Francine E. Love is the Founder and Managing Attorney at LOVE LAW FIRM, PLLC which dedicates its practice to serving business owners and entrepreneurs. The opinions expressed are those of the author. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. 

Francine E. Love
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Founder and Managing Attorney at Love Law Firm, PLLC which dedicates its practice to New York business law
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