Be Professional, Be Yourself

Be Professional, Be Yourself

Who are you when you’re on social media?

I joined Facebook back in 2009, and boy did it feel awkward. It reminded me that, at heart, I’m an introvert who has had to learn to be an extrovert. In fact, I took my first job in sales to push myself to develop those social skills I was missing. I wanted to get more comfortable talking with people and putting my ideas out there.

Social media for businesspeople is sort of like networking — but not really. Its speed and spontaneity is sort of like talking — but not really. Once people get on social media, there’s a fight for attention. Some people thrive on social media by making themselves the “product.” That sort of self-display has never been my style, and it certainly isn’t appropriate for me as a marketer advising organizations and brands.

When I was growing up, humility was the watchword. You earn attention through hard work. The other principle I learned growing up was to respect privacy and be discreet with details about other people’s lives. Those ideas might seem old-fashioned in the share-it-all-now Attention Economy, but it’s who I am, and I stand by it. So how can I be myself and be effective on social media for my business?

I realized I couldn’t treat every social stream the same. I think of Facebook like home, LinkedIn like the office and Twitter like the streets between. When I post on Facebook, I’m Bonnie the mom, wife and friend. When I post on LinkedIn, I’m Bonnie, CEO of FIDGET Branding. When I tweet, I’m a mix of both. Being conscious of those different personas gives me the confidence to speak to my personal and professional audiences with more freedom.

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How do you navigate the difference between what’s personal and professional on social media? (Tell us!)

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About the Social Media for the Reluctant series:

People assume that because I’m a marketer, I’m a natural at social media. Spoiler alert: I’m not — and I know I’m not the only one. Over the last decade, we’ve seen social media become an important way for businesspeople to raise their profile, promote their skills and share their thought leadership. Establishing this personal brand is part business and part personality — and the line between can get blurry.

But the skills that make for successful face-to-face connections don’t always translate to LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or other social feeds. This series is for anyone who, like me, is sometimes a reluctant social media user.

Bonnie Nijst
Written by Bonnie Nijst

Bonnie Nijst has been a wire service bureau manager, and VP of sales for both a publicly traded broadcast communications company and an Internet startup. She has also served on boards for organizations focused on economic opportunity, diversity, public health and civic engagement. She is president and CEO at FIDGET. Email Bonnie directly at or call her at 323.658.8000.