Ten Tips for Highly Effective Facebook Networkers


Facebook is probably the first social network you joined, but one of the last you'd use for professional networking. Facebook is trying to change that, though, and is gradually moving toward more career-oriented features, including allotting more space to work and education information. If nothing else, your Facebook profile is still an important piece of professional identification—most people Google you after meeting you, and your Facebook profile is usually one of the highest results.

Here are some tips for polishing your profile to impress employers, employees, customers and clients.

See What Your Public Profile Looks Like

Do you know what your profile looks like to people who aren't Facebook friends with you? There's an easy to find out! Go to your profile and select the three dots on the right-hand side of the page by "View Activity Log." Then select "View As" from the dropdown menu. You can then view your profile as it appears to the public—meaning as it appears to anybody who searches for you—and also how it appears to specific people you're friends with.

Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Your name, profile pictures, cover photo, gender, current city, and pages you're a fan of will always be viewable by strangers. Thus, if you're worried about offending a potential contact with your strong political views or unusual fetishes, consider unliking those pages. You can simply adjust your privacy settings to control who sees other kinds of content that you post—be it photos or status updates. Friend lists are an important component of those privacy settings.

Create Friend Lists

The secret to looking professional on Facebook while still having fun is to create friend lists so that you can share "10 Tips for Startup Success" with your entrepreneur friends,"10 Tips for Surviving Coachella" with your college friends, and "10 Pictures of Cats Who Look Guilty" with your family.  

To edit your Friends lists and create new ones, click on the “Friends” section on the left side of the News Feed. You'll see that Facebook has already created four default lists for you: Acquaintances, Family, Close friends, and Restricted.

  • Acquaintances: Posts from friend on this list show up less frequently in your News Feed. You can also choose to exclude these people when you post something, by choosing "Friends except Acquaintances" in the audience selector. This is a great category for people you know professionally, but not very well—like that one guy you met at the conference that one time, for instance. No one will be notified if you add them to this list.
  • Family: This lists is just pretty self-explanatory. The Family list is great for limiting access to pictures of your children.
  • Close Friends: You can add your best friends to this list to see more of them in your News Feed and get notified each time they post. You also have the option to turn these extra notifications off.
  • Restricted: This list is for people you’ve added as a friend but just don’t want to share with—like an ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, co-worker, or employer. When you add someone to your Restricted list, they will only be able to see your Public content or posts of yours that you tag them in. (Honestly, if you're going to the trouble of placing somebody in the Restricted list, you might just consider unfriending them entirely.)

You can also create custom lists by pressing "Create List" at the top of the Friends page. These lists are a really handy way to sort, say, all of your high school friend into one place. That way you can easily share content with them and only them and find all of their updates in one place. Also a great way to organize your network contacts—"People I know from Company X," "People I know from Company Y," "People I know from the tech conference," etc. You can check these lists periodically to make sure you're not missing important updates.

Look Professional

Because Facebook is perceived as the most casual social network, people often use informal photos as their profile pics. An image of you looking sharp at a wedding or restaurant might be fine, and even a casual shot from a sporting event or concert can work. But when in doubt, lean more professional, not less. Consider using the same headshot you use for your LinkedIn account, or a similarly polished image.

Get a Vanity URL

Facebook gives you a long string of numbers and letters as your default username—something like facebook.com/kclkj488484sj. It's easy to change this gibberish into something more professional in the settings. This vanity URL will also be your Facebook email address as well as your username in Messenger. It's difficult to change your username once you've selected one—newlyweds occasionally have to provide ID to get their last name changed!—so make sure you select the one you want the first time. Ideally it should be the same one you use with your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts.

Fill in Your Professional Details

You can add a lot of profession details—including job title, education, and social accounts—to your About page. If you adjust the privacy settings so that these details are "public," this info will show up just below the Intro box on the left column of your main Timeline page. Make this change immediately! The Intro box itself provides you with 101 characters to "describe who you are.” This short summary can also be accompanied by up to five featured photos.

Share Smart Content

Your Facebook page is a great place to share blog posts, industry news, and other types of content related to your profession. Invite people to comment on stories with "What do you think?" captions and try to respond to questions and suggestions. And utilize the Friend lists to ensure you're engaging with the right audience by keeping family discussions in the family and silly memes away from your business relationships. (The occasional irreverent post is okay for all of your contacts—everybody loves a funny video now and then—but know your audience and make sure anything "funny" you share isn't going to offend.)

Be Prepared to Moderate

Long comment threads are generally a great sign that you're posting interesting and useful content. But an interesting discussion can quickly turn into nasty debate, and you may need to step in as the "host" of the discussion in order to restore order. Any negative or offensive comments that are left unaddressed may reflect poorly on you.

Join Groups

A lot of professional groups have shifted to LinkedIn, but you can still find active groups on Facebook within your industry where peers and prospective customers discuss news and best practices. Facebook groups are especially useful because they have their own privacy settings—which makes the ability to create events and share files even more useful. Look for the “Discover Groups” tab in the left sidebar of the news feed.

Enable two-step verification

A hacked Facebook account is a nightmare for anybody, but imagine how bad it would be if your profile suddenly starts spamming business connections with porn links? To avoid this, you should regularly update your password and always use two-step verification, which requires not one but two pieces of privileged information before granting access to your account from a new device. Two-step verification will stop nearly hackers at the gate before they can seize control of your account.