Social media continually offers groundbreaking opportunities for amplified connectivity, and leveraging the right platform is key to your success in our digital age. Facebook, among the frontrunners on today’s social networking platforms, has traditionally been viewed as a personal network for sharing daily updates, engagement announcements and vacation photos with friends and family. With a reach that is far greater than LinkedIn, the social networking powerhouse can be one of the most dynamic tools for professionals…if used correctly.

Since Facebook’s scope is far more extensive than other social media platforms, it has the potential to be more effective than LinkedIn in building stronger professional relationships. In moving from a solely business association to that of a personal connection, a deeper personal relationship has the opportunity to mature in the greater sense of social networking. With smart use, Facebook proves a viable networking tool for job seekers and seasoned professionals. It is important, however, to remain cognizant of the diverse audiences you are reaching. Maintaining personal privacy while networking with both friends and business contacts may seem daunting, but the below tips will help you leverage the platform to your advantage.

Tips for effectively leveraging Facebook for professional networking opportunities:

Manage your privacy settings – The key to effectively managing your Facebook activity is to keep your personal and professional feeds separated. You can easily achieve this balance by updating your privacy settings to reflect the information that is visible to viewers of your profile. When polishing your profile, know that the privacy of status updates already published cannot be modified. You will therefore need to delete posts or photos you aren’t comfortable sharing with a network that extends beyond your inner circle of friends.

Clean up your image – Despite heightened privacy settings, ensure that your profile image is professional and reflects the industry in which you work. Marketing careers and creative roles allow more freedom, while accounting and financial professionals are better suited to photos more conservative in nature.

Create interest lists – You now have the ability to create custom lists and specify the content that users in each list can access. Effectively manage these groups by adding appropriate contacts to each list, whether they are friends, family members or potential networking connections. In the same way, adjust your profile settings by selecting who can see particular details of your profile page. For example, photos from a recent family vacation should be kept private and shared with friends and family. On the other hand, updates from an industry conference you attended would be information worthy to share with professional contacts, serving as the beginning of a conversation.

Post relevant content – Share content that is relevant to your industry, career search or professional field. Your top scores on Candy Crush and latest acreage acquisition on Farmville provide little to no value for industry leaders. Limit the number of photos you post and disable widgets that send unnecessary and automated requests to connections, such as: Causes, Gifts and Birthday Calendar.

Be a connector – There are people on your Facebook friends list who could benefit from being connected to each other. Recognize the opportunities to introduce connections and be willing to reach out and initiate the interaction. The overreaching goal of your networking efforts should be to forge stronger relationships that deliver results for both parties.

Do you cross the social media airwaves between personal and professional networking? If you have leveraged Facebook for business purposes, I would like to hear how you have found success in optimizing your profile and making these connections.