Personal vs. personable: You mean there's a difference?Blog added by Sheryl Brown-Madjlessi on April 21, 2014
Sheryl Brown

Sheryl Brown-Madjlessi

Fort Wayne, IN

Joined: May 01, 2013

We’ve established that social media is a conversation. Yes, you have to talk out there in the great big world of people you’ve never met, but how much information should you be sharing?

Too often, I open an advisor’s LinkedIn profile and find that they’ve crossed the ever-narrowing line of personable content into the scary area of personal information that should probably be kept private. They will ask me, “You mean there’s a difference?”


Being personable on LinkedIn is well-received. Anyone who is pleasant, and as Dave Kerpen has coined, “likeable” on social media will fare well. The information you are sharing should have an agreeable tone and texture, even if you’re disagreeing with someone. Personable is the goal.


Personal is a sketchy area that carries risks for you and possibly your family, depending on how personal you get. I’ve seen everything from home addresses with telephone numbers to profile pictures of an individual with their loved ones on LinkedIn profiles. I agree we are in a human-to-human (H2H) business, but for a community of financial service professionals who are helping to mitigate risks, why take the chance in potentially putting your own family in harm’s way?

So what’s the difference?

How do you know if you are crossing the line? Does the interests section on your profile contain references to "coaching Little League" or "coaching the Diamondback Little League in St. Charles, Mo."? Does your volunteer section show your support of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or does it say you serve lunch at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Springfield, Ill.? Does your project section show you’re a long-term care speaker at Sandleford Nursing Home, or does it go on to add that you do this because your mother is a resident? It’s a subtle difference; you may be inadvertently providing too much insight into your private life.

The very nature of what we do in the financial services community is centered around personal information. Whether we are talking with clients about their finances, health history, goals or family, we are doing so in a very personal environment. Being personal allows you to be a little more intimate with your audience, and it’s not altogether a terrible idea in every situation. However, keep in mind that there are risks associated with exposing private information on social media. If you’re ever concerned about providing too much information, keep bringing it back a notch. It’s always better to err on the side of personable rather than personal.

Take time to review your profile today. Remove any information that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having on the side of a non-stop bus in a metropolitan city.

See also: Social media ownership: business account vs. personal account
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