Ever since Facebook was introduced to the public in February 2004, it’s become the most widely-used social networking sites in the world. After my initial skepticism about Facebook, I’ve found it to be a useful tool for keeping in touch with family, friends and colleagues, and for reconnecting with people I haven’t seen for awhile. This has been especially handy since June 2007 when I moved to Central Massachusetts after living in the Chicago area most of my life.

In this post, you won’t find advice about how to find a job using Facebook. However, a key component of good career management is nurturing your network and building healthy relationships with people you know. When you think of your Facebook presence as an extension of who you are offline, you’ll become more aware of how your online engagement, interaction, and posting style will be perceived by your Facebook friends.

Here’s a short primer on how to be a good Facebook friend, so you’ll come across in a positive light, rather than angry, annoying, insensitive, oblivious or self-absorbed, i.e., writing “all about you” posts, and rarely interacting with your friends.

  • Post short status updates. Avoid long-winded, lengthy rants about “Life, the Universe, and Everything” (to quote author Doug Adams). Instead, write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, then choose one or two short sentences to post in Facebook.
  • Use a photo or infographic in your message, with a short caption above it. After all, a picture paints a thousand words!
  • Say “Happy Birthday” to your friends. It takes only two seconds and will mean so much to your friends. You can set Facebook up to send email reminders of which friends have birthdays each week. Plus, you’ll see notifications of your friends’ birthdays in the upper right-hand corner whenever you log into to your Facebook account.
  • Show interest in your friends’ posts by “liking” them or posting a comment. Be especially attuned to life events such as births and deaths. I was really touched by so many “likes” and caring comments I received when I posted that my beloved cat of 18 years had passed away.
  • Acknowledge nice comments from friends by “liking” them or sending back a private message. For example, I “liked” every birthday greeting I received, instead of posting a general “thank you” as a status update.
  • Notice who likes your posts and who posts comments. You can easily see this information in the upper right-hand corner in the circular “world” icon. Be sure to reciprocate accordingly!
  • Ask permission before sending game invites; many folks (like me) find games to be annoying, distracting and a waste of time, money and energy.
  • Keep your personal issues and drama offline. Deal privately with the people you’re having conflicts with, instead of having heated, public conversations on your Facebook page.
  • Avoid posting highly-controversial political or religious news articles and commentary. Have those discussions offline or in private chat groups.

Want to engage with more Facebook friends? Here’s a tip from Bob and Joy Schwabach’s most recent technology column: “On Computers.” If you notice that the same Facebook friends are always at the top of your page, you can fix that. Bob and Joy say that “Facebook notices when you comment on someone’s post or click “like.” It puts those people on top. To change that, start liking or commenting on posts from people you rarely see. You can type a friend’s name in the search box and go right to their posts.” (Note: this tip appears at the very bottom of their column.)

Some of this may seem to be a lot of work, especially if you have many friends who post on a regular basis. However, you only need to spend a few minutes once or twice a day on these activities and you don’t always have to engage with the same friends.

Either way, you’ll find that it pays to cultivate strong Facebook relationships. You never know when one of your friends will provide you with job leads or connections with hiring managers, if you suddenly become jobless or in career transition. People will usually make referrals to those they know, like and trust – so let that person be you!

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin 2014 / www.career-success-coach.com