When you follow a friend because of a common interest, isn’t it a bummer to see him go off on President Whoever? Like a movie character talking about his relations with his mother mid-movie, it’s a massive spoiler. “That dude who has the Woodstock autograph collection won’t shut up about politics when elections come around.”

Do You Care?

Do you care what strangers think about President Whoever’s policies? Not if you’re cool. You barely care about your own views. Sure, they’re important, but you’re too busy living the adventure that is your life to give a damn about health care policy.

Your real friends are a great source for viewpoints. Unlike the politics trolls, they will express themselves honestly and politely. They will respect you when you disagree. Will the Facebook strangers ever show you respect?

Ignore the political views of strangers. There’s a point in life when you’ve had enough debates, discussions and diatribes for a lifetime.

Political discussions on social networks are like an Escher painting; they go round and round and end up where they started. When is the last time you read this post – “You convinced me! I was wrong.”

The same goes for religion. Religion and the belief in a supreme being is profoundly deep material. When you meet a new friend, do you discuss politics and religion during your first or second chat? Probably not. You build up to these things. What about discussing them with total strangers?

Keep your political and religious views to yourself. Discussing politics and religion on a social network is a pathetic waste of time. Mark this as super uncool.

PUI – Posting While Intoxicated

One stupid post can end your career. Literally. There are countless stories out there of people who posted anti-social messages on social networks that hit the “viral jackpot.” They wake up and read about themselves on CNN. Then the phone rings and it’s the boss on the line. “You’re fired!” You’re also a media star for not the best reasons. It’s not easy to explain your way out of this one..

Keep away from the keyboard when you are drunk, high or in an overly emotional state. Save your vulgar side for your real friends. The biggest advantage of talking privately is that nothing you say is indexed on Google.

When in doubt, send a private message to a few real friends.

LinkedIn – The Useful Social Network

LinkedIn is the professional social network. If you are over age 30 and are going to sign up for one online schmooze site, this is the one. LinkedIn allows you to connect with professionals all over the world who can help you as you help them to connect with others and improve your skills. Here are some useful ways that LinkedIn can help you.

Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is an extension of your resume. Nothing about your love of the Flintstones or strong martinis. If you have ever written any professional documents or smart blog posts, you can add them to the publications section of your LinkedIn profile. Keep it clean.

Friends can recommend and endorse you. Nice, but these won’t make or break your career. LinkedIn does this to keep busybodies busy on the site.

LinkedIn Privacy Settings

Under privacy settings you’ll find “turn of/off your activity broadcasts.” Turn it off! There is no need to “let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations or follow companies.”

Within LinkedIn privacy settings are notification settings. Make sure email notifications are set to off. Every time you join a group, the default is to send you a daily or periodical digest email. You don’t need these.

Connect With Human Resource Professionals

Human resource professionals are people who hire people. If you work in high tech, add as many “high tech HR pro’s” as you can. Join a few LinkedIn Groups geared for your field of expertise (programmer, marketing, high tech) and you will get closer to them. You need to be at least a 2nd degree contact (“friend of a friend” in order to be able to send an unsolicited message or friend request on LinkedIn); joining groups and added friends removes this hurdle with ease.

Who’s Watching You?

One useful LinkedIn feature is “Who’s Viewed Your Profile,” which is found on the right side of the screen. It’s good to know who is checking you out. If you think you two can work together or if they can help you (especially HR managers or people at companies that you’re interested in), connect with them. You may have to tell LinkedIn that you’ve worked together, it depends. Most people don’t mind adding new connections on LinkedIn as long as you live in the same country and work in the same field and/or have a obvious, mutual business interest.

Think Twice

Think twice, even three times before you post a vulgar comment or joke on LinkedIn. What is stupid on Facebook and Twitter is suicidal (for your career) on LinkedIn. If you need to let it loose, find another place. By the time you delete your comment, 250 hiring managers and potential partners will have seen your out of place comment.

Keep Your Friends Close and Some Friends Further Away

When you first create your account on LinkedIn, your first instinct is to add real life friends. Good idea, in most cases. Add the good friends that you can vouch for. Skip the party crowd. And with that, have a great weekend!