Monday, November 30, 2009

Should our professional identities be kept separate from our social life?

Should our professional identities be kept separate from our social life?

This question is definitely relevant within the domain of personal branding, but I would like to approach this question from a place of mindful inquiry.

When I linked my Twitter to my personal profile on Facebook, one of my friends made a comment suggesting that many of her friends on Twitter had chosen to keep the two separate. And more recently, I volunteered to help with the promotions of a community event for which I created really cool invites, which were sent out with my signature including my professional credentials. Again, I was asked by a colleague, if it wouldn't be better to send the invite out without my credentials as this was coming from my "casual, neighborhood personality and not business." A very good question.

What do you think? Do you keep your identities separate - is your professional persona different from your social one? When you volunteer are you one person and when you provide the same service in a professional setting are you a different person?

From personal branding perspective, you would want to promote your personal brand across all dimensions of your life and the answer is quite simple in that case - you keep your signature consistent in all your communications.

Assuming you do put your professional signature on all communications - even your social and personal ones - wouldn't that make you a pushy marketer?

Here in lies potential for inner conflict and fragmentation and choosing to go one way over the other without mindful inquiry would lead to a decision that is not authentic and optimal. I would encourage you too to meditate on this question and find what feels true to you. You may be amazed with what you find in yourself, beliefs that are holding you back from your highest expression of Self.

I will share my truth on this subject. I see my Self as compassionate, creative, and mindful and that is who I am across all aspects of my life and with all people in my life. Separating my identities into social and professional to me is creating false identifications and fragmentation, which is not my experience of who I am. I am innovative, authentic, mindful. Period.

Should I feel guilty in promoting my work when I volunteer in my community? In my head, letting people know who I am is not a bad things because I am providing valuable service and would like people to know what solutions I can provide to make their lives better. Of course, if promoting my work becomes the priority in my volunteer work, then I am not being true to the task at hand and would feel inauthentic to me. So, if doing my best job as a volunteer allows people to know what I have to offer professionally, I think we have a win win situation here :)

I believe our lives should rest on win win situations and that is only possible if we are mindful (not operating out of guilt and limiting beliefs), authentic, and innovative (because fining win win situations often requires thinking out of the box and getting out of our comfort zones.)


  1. I used to keep separate blogs and email addresses for the Zen Cueist, Scrivener, and The Barking Unicorn. It was a pain and felt dishonest. It was pointless, too, because anyone who can Google can piece us all together.

    People want single-purpose professionals, though. It's hard to sell a Bodhisattva who hustles pool and perpetrates tech journalism.

    "What do you do?" requires an answer less than 25 words long or people don't understand it. Nobody buys what he doesn't understand. It scares him.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I am finding that it is hard for me to separate who I am in one situation from another and it seems to work for me. Bringing my authentic self and all of it in my work makes me the unique person who can offer solutions like no one else can.

    Well, I invite people to examine what drives their decisions, thats all.

  3. Hi Shalini,

    I came across this article today and found it intriguing enough to have to sit down and send you a comment.

    The nature of the web has made it very difficult to separate one's personal and professional life. I simply do not know how it can be done since work and social media have become so intertwined.

    In this age of global associations, how can we really make a difference if we are not expressing all of who we are and can be? As women we are empowered as never before to make this a reality.

    Bringing mindfulness to business is something which I applaud and support. I look forward to connecting with you through other networks. I will certainly take the time to read your other posts.


    Lynn Fishman RN

  4. Thank you so much Lynn for taking time to read and share your experience on the topic.

    It is my personal experience that I am the same person across dimensions and so much richer and happier being that way. But I have also researched and written about authentic leadership that speaks to being more integrated as we move towards being authentic leaders.

    I would love to know how you found this post.

  5. Is this post entitled integral business?

  6. Yes, the post about authentic leadership is also tagged as integral business.