​We make connections every day. In a professional and in a social capacity, we are making a myriad of new connections in our lives on a regular basis.  When you have a business, and you are representing yourself, you will have to decide what sort of category these connections fit into. Are these personal relationships? Is this a business relationship? Can it be both? When it comes to connecting on social media, it is best to keep business and personal separate.  But, how do you make that determination and what’s the best way to get people to connect in the way you want them to?

Personal connections should be easy to decipher. Friends and family will obviously fall into the personal category. Anyone who you would want to share the latest picture of your favorite pumpkin pie, a video of your daughter’s dance recital, or photos from your birthday party will fall into the personal category. Not everyone you meet, even if you are friendly with them, is going to fall into this category. Consider what you want to share with who. If this is someone you see solely in a business sense, then you should stick to that. You may have some friends who you know would be interested in your business or who would simply be interested in supporting your business. By all means, invite as many family and friends as you see fit to follow you on social media across your business platforms. Personal connections don’t have to be left out of your business.

When it comes to people you meet at networking events, in professional settings, or those who are recommended to you – consider what you want the relationship to be moving forward. Is this a potential client, customer, or colleague? If so, inviting them to like your business page or inviting them to connect with you on a professional social media platform like LinkedIn will be your best course.  Let what you are wanting to share with them be your guide. This doesn’t mean that in the future there can’t be a cross over where you become friends with this person and connect more personally.  Just understand that not every business connection that you meet needs to be a person you are telling your life story to. If this is someone you want to be professional with –then keep it professional.

Would you invite this person over for a barbeque at your house or would you meet them out for a business lunch to discuss details? There is nothing wrong with being social and friendly, but you also have to remember that you are always representing your brand. When you mix business and personal you are inadvertently giving business connections a different perspective of you and your business.

If you meet someone who you think will want to connect with you, go home and invite them to like your page. Send them a message on LinkedIn. Hand them a card at a networking event with your business email and business social media pages. This way, if they are looking to connect, they can do so in a professional manner that curbs the friend request to Facebook. It’s difficult to separate the connections once they are already attempting to connect in a certain way.

What have your experiences been in meeting new clients and networking in a way that keeps business and personal connections separate? Do you think that they should be kept separate? What should you be wary of? Comment below!