facebookIn most cases, people tend to use their Facebook accounts for either personal or business use, but not both. However, in some instances – like a one-person business –  it can be effective to combine the two, with a little help from Facebook’s privacy features.

To distinguish between personal and business use, one approach would be to assign a Limited Profile setting to business contacts to control what they can (and cannot) see in your profile.  And always bear in mind when you do anything in Facebook, a prospect or client might see it, even if they shouldn’t have access to it. You just never know what might spill over.

Here are a few notes on creating an effective profile for business and personal use.

Use your full name — Many women use a version with their maiden name, because some people knew them only by that name. If you’ve used other names, try to fit them in somewhere logical, such as your “Info” tab.

Fill out your profile as completely as possible — The profile has four sections: “Basic,” “Personal,” “Contact” and “Education and Work.” Fill out the information as completely as you can, but always think about a potential client reading the details. Do you want that client to know that about you?

Choose the right profile photo — If you have a professional photo, use it. 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.

Link to your blog — Facebook has several Applications that can automatically  import your blog entries into Facebook. Networked Blogs is one good choice. It’s a great way to find readers of your blog’s content. Many people say their local friends never read their blog until they connected it to Facebook.

Put your most important business 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 to know about you? What do they get out of working with you? Mention your industry, client type or other information to give people a hint. Use appropriate privacy settings for your profile information. Some people have their profile settings so high that when someone searches for them, they only see a name. 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. One basic set-up would be to open your profile photos and then maybe your “Education and Work” information to everyone. This helps searchers know if they have the right person while letting them know what I do.

Take advantage of privacy settings to limit access on a per-user basis. If you don’t know someone very well or only on a professional level, give them a “Limited Profile” assignment. Those with this assignment can only see the parts of your profile that you open to them. You can also control who can view each photo album. For more personal photo albums, you can customize the privacy settings to “My friends except for those on the Limited Profile list”, for example.

Still not sold on Facebook for business? We will continue to discuss the many tips and challenges associated with social networking in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned!