Worlds Colliding: When Networking Groups Want You to Join a Facebook Group

Facebook networking groupCan you keep your Facebook account private from colleagues and professional friends? What is the polite way to respond when asked, as Reader E was, to join a Facebook Group for a committee she’s on?

I recently joined a committee for the local bar that organizes a fun run every year to support a local charity, which I’m excited about doing because I’m a runner myself and I really like what this charity does. Today we got an email about the first meeting, and the woman in charge asked us all to join the facebook group for this committee. I am really uncomfortable with this request. My facebook profile is almost completely locked down from my professional life. I’m not searchable, I’m not friends with any of my coworkers, and I don’t want people I work with reading it. Is her request that we join this facebook group unreasonable? Can I decline? I have a work email set up so people can communicate with me about work related things. I don’t want to use my facebook profile for it!

We haven’t talked about Facebook in a while — we talked about what to do when your boss wants to “friend” you, as well as looked at FB’s privacy settings (a long while ago — here’s a Lifehacker post on privacy settings that promises to be “always up to date”) — so I’m curious to see how much readers think the situation has changed. [Read more...]

What Not to Order at a Business Lunch

how to eat a sandwichWhat foods should you avoid ordering at a business lunch — and are sandwiches among them? Reader M has a legitimate question, but some of the Google results I found on a preliminary search made me laugh out loud (including the brilliant, if outdated, Tumblr blog, 500 Still Frames of Joe Biden Eating a Sandwich).  Here’s her Q:

What’s the proper procedure for eating a sandwich at a business lunch? Hands or knife and fork? Or should you avoid this altogether? I think you should follow the lead of your guests, but wanted to get a second opinion.

We’ve talked a lot about  different aspects of this — from our top tips for business lunches, to how to stick to your diet at a business lunch (even a gluten-free diet), and even whether you can take leftovers from a business lunch — but I don’t think we’ve explicitly talked about what to avoid ordering.  I’ll be honest — my gut reaction to Reader M’s question was that this verges on the “we’re thinking too much about this” side of things (although I was amused by the prospect of titling the post, How to Eat a Sandwich), but it’s a legitimate question — sandwiches can get super messy, with unexpected bites.  I’ve been to way too many catered group lunches (particularly as a lawyer!) where the only option was sandwiches, though, so I don’t think there’s anything inherently unprofessional about picking up a sandwich and eating it.  Still, unless we’re talking about an open face sandwich (or something obviously messy, like a drowned sandwich), a knife and fork seems like a bit much to me.  So for my $.02, I’d say to pick it up with your hands and take the smallest, most delicate bites you can — chew thoroughly and repeat.

It got me thinking, though — what things would you never order at a business lunch, readers?  [Read more...]

How to Respond to Work-Related Praise

How to Take a Compliment Gracefully | CorporetteHow do you respond when someone praises your work — without sounding like an entitled braggart (and without undermining yourself)? Reader T has a great question about compliments at work.

My question for you is, how do you respond to a co-worker (sometimes a supervisor) telling you they’ve heard great comments/feedback about your work? I’m confused as to whether this is a compliment you simply say thank you to, or is there more we should add? (i.e. I appreciate the opportunity to learn) It’s not a direct compliment, yet somehow is one. I often feel the need to justify the passed-along compliment with an explanation, yet sometimes I inadvertently undermine my own efforts and achievements.

First, that absolutely is praise, so congrats to Reader T.  I’m curious to hear what the readers say about whether you can undermine yourself with your response to praise. For my own $.02 — particularly as someone with an overactive imposter syndrome — I’ve definitely been tempted to respond with things like, “It was a team effort!” or “___ really helped by supervising me,” or “I was really lucky to find the answer so quickly!”

Maybe it’s a facet of age or experience (or just writing and reading about this stuff), but I’m pretty sure that my more recent response to any work-related praise has been (and will be) more along the following lines: Thanks. I’m glad you’re hearing good things. It was a fun project and I’m happy to get started on a new one. All said with a smile but not necessarily exclamation points. I feel like these responses don’t undermine your work by attributing luck or someone else.  Maybe it’s just me, but none of these responses really smack of WHY YES I AM A GENIUS HOW NICE OF YOU TO NOTICE.

I’m curious, readers — do you inadvertently undermine your own efforts and achievements, either by being overly humble or letting your imposter complex take over?  Do you notice other people doing it?

Pictured: Thank You, originally uploaded to Flickr by HelloJenuine (also available for sale at Etsy).

Business Lunch Tips — And Other Awkward-to-Impart Knowledge

business lunch etiquetteOur “Top 10 Things to Know About a Business Lunch” article is one of our top posts here at Corporette. I still remember the day I wrote it — the blog was about a week old, and I was still (anonymously) figuring out content. (Both the TPS report and the Suit of the Week were things I added at the absolute last minute!) I went to a largeish group lunch with summer associates (maybe 10 of us?) and while no one acted egregiously, I remembered just how hard it was for me to learn that business etiquette stuff, and how awkward it was to try to impart that knowledge to summer associates. “To the blog!” I thought.

So I’m curious, readers — what are YOUR top three business lunch tips that you wish you could teach to all the young’uns at your company or firm this summer? What other tips do you think are important from a career and professionalism standpoint, but are awkward to talk about with younger colleagues?

Pictured: Fork!, originally uploaded to Flickr by Joshua Rappeneker.

How Personal Can You Keep Your Personal Life?

Binocular Smile, originally uploaded to Flickr by cobalt123.How do you fend off questions from nosy coworkers — particularly when it’s a “plus one” business event and you’re by yourself? Reader R, moving to a new city, doesn’t want to feel like she’s under a microscope at an upcoming picnic:

I’m relocating & starting my first professorship at a university. The faculty are having a picnic in honor of the new members (myself and one other person) before the semester begins. This is also a “family & signifcant others” event and therein lies the problem: I’m single & moving out of state. Translation: I won’t know anyone or be able to invite anyone. Not to sound shallow, but I don’t want to field questions about my personal life (i.e dating, engaged, etc) because it is really no one’s business. But with children & spouses/so’s running around, I feel as though it is inevitable. Age, too, plays a factor. I am by far the youngest faculty member…

Congrats on your new professorship and the new city — it sounds like an adventure! I think you’re right to expect some curiosity about your personal life, but I think that’s par for the course for any smaller office. I think the bigger (and more impersonal) the office is, the more you can stay private — but even then, the more you become “known” (particularly when you start supervising people), the more people become curious about the basic facts of our personal life.  So while I can understand not wanting to get into the deeper details of your personal life, you may be heading into the office with the slightly wrong attitude. It isn’t an interrogation — people just want a simple answer, and I think will find it weirder if you decline to answer than if you answer briefly. Some sample scripts for you: [Read more...]

Business Lunch Etiquette: When Do You Offer to Pay?

business lunch etiquetteWhat is good business lunch etiquette where interns or summer associates are concerned — when should you offer to pay for your share of lunch? In general, when in business settings should you offer to pay? Reader S, about to be a summer associate at a law firm, wonders…

During summer social events, what is the protocol for paying for your share of the festivities / food / drink? I don’t want to be entitled but I also don’t know who to ask about paying. I might be over-thinking things a little, but I wanted to see if there was a polite (and non-awkward) way of asking about these things.

I think this is a great question — you hear a lot about summer associates being entitled, and it’s nice to hear someone wanting to contribute. We’ve talked about some good business lunch tips before, but we haven’t talked about when to pay. I’m curious to hear what readers say here, but for my $.02, this is how I look at it: [Read more...]