I discovered Branch Out today. Well, rather it discovered me in an invitation to connect with a friend who works in a similar industry to me. So I did. I was awarded a Super Connector badge. I discovered 8 other friends who’d also signed up. I imported my LinkedIn profile…..

Wait a minute….I imported my LinkedIn profile? Why did I do this?

It’s a few hours later now, and the harsh reality of mid-afternoon is setting in. I love LinkedIn. I find it to be a great business resource. I’m connected to previous colleagues, people I’ve met at industry events, clients, and other fine folks with whom I have a business or networking relationship. Not (necessarily) people I went to band camp with, snogged, am related to, used to be related to, and send Kenny Powers quotes to (although some of my LinkedIn people have crossed the line to become Facebook friends too. I trust they won’t judge me for making the odd penis joke). LinkedIn has afforded me speaking opportunities, job offers, helpful groups and discussions, and referrals within the confines of a business environment. Now I have the ability to give an endorsement to someone who shaved my eyebrows at a volleyball tournament (we’ve since made up)….and something isn’t sitting right with me.

Branch Out is “jobs and career networking on Facebook.”

We Facebook for pretty much everything else, so why not jobs and careers? I’ll tell you why. It all boils down to the premise that your coworkers are really NOT your friends.

  • your job and colleagues may rock the Casbah, but don’t be fooled that the business environment is driven by anything but business decisions. Not who sent you a birthday message or “liked” your Top 10 Albums of 2008.
  • I hate to say it, but the goal for most people in a business environment is advancement. Meaning you’ll have your head chopped off if you’re standing in the way of someone who’s resolutely on their path. And then it will be really hard to prevent yourself from spamming their wall with vitriol when they (cuss) you over.
  • you probably didn’t “friend” your boss, and on purpose. We all know that once it’s online, it’s fair game, but now you’re going to really have to censor the one place where people still seem to have no problem posting pictures of their bellybuttons.

Job and career stuff can be fun, but not the same fun stuff as happens on Facebook. And there’s a reason for that: it’s still – even in our hyper-connected lives – possible to separate business from pleasure. Let’s keep it fun, okay?

* Here’s an article on Branch Out from the big brains at Tech Crunch.