Balancing Act: Social media build bonds

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When Brian Goldberg learned on Facebook that he and a co-worker had a mutual love of craft beer, he invited him to lunch at a sports bar where his own favorite brand was on tap. While gobbling burgers and throwing back cold brew, Mr. Goldberg snapped a picture with his new buddy, posted it on Instagram and tagged it "#bestlunchever." "It's great when you find co-workers who have interests aligned with yours."

Social networking has made it easier to form personal relationships with co-workers. On sites such as Facebook and Instagram, people gain insight into colleagues that could provide the basis for forging stronger workplace bonds.

"In some ways, [social media] has replaced team-building events that used to take place off-site," said Carlos Garcia, founder of Nobox, a social media marketing firm in Miami. "You get to know the people you work with on a deeper level."

A poll released in January found workers reported that social technologies in the office simplified communication, fostered stronger relationships and increased collaboration. Jim Greenway, executive vice president of Lee Hecht Harrison, the talent mobility consulting firm that conducted the poll, believes those benefits to office relationships positively affect how much we like our jobs and how loyal we feel to our workplaces.

Indeed, research by Gallup found that strong social connections at the office can make employees more passionate about their work and less likely to quit their jobs. Social media connection that opens the door to face-to-face conversation can play a role in deepening those friendships.

Of course, letting co-workers into your personal life carries risk. A simple post like "I hate Mondays" or any comment that implies you don't really like your job or boss can hurt you at work.

Each social network has its own way of allowing you to edit content and customize who gets to see it. Experts suggest you set your privacy settings, review them regularly and be smart about what you post.

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC; balancegal@gmail.com


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