Though our interactions on social media platforms are frequent, and while it's common to ask our networks for advice on both personal and professional matters, it's still a complete taboo -- in case you didn't know -- to talk about money online. According to LinkedIn and Citi's study of professional women's biggest financial and career concerns, women draw distinct lines between which conversations are appropriate for social networks (such as LinkedIn and Facebook), and which topics are off-limits. While more than half of the respondents say that job searches, career topics, and recent promotions are fine to discuss on professional social media sites, 70 percent of respondents say that salary discussions are best done in person or over the phone. In other words, where there's no paper trail or newsfeed that'll land you in an HR office near you.
It's always important, however, to do a little research on salary matters or perhaps get support on personal financial matters. Given the taboos, how can you talk about money online, and with whom? Here are some tips:
1. Your partner or spouse should be a safe bet.
With the exceptions of your salary and monthly expenses, you can open up to your close friends or family members -- more than half of survey respondents reported that they did.
2. Opening up to colleagues about salary is a no-no.
Simply put, it's no one's business how much you make, and discussions like these can spread like wildfire through an office. Knowledge about salaries can help you with negotiations, so a safer option to do your investigative work is to use a site like SalaryShare, which allows you to pool information anonymously with a group of participants that could potentially extend Zip codes beyond your sixth-floor water cooler.
3. Don't pick apart your paycheck in an online community.
If you're sloppy with your username, say if your Flickr account shares the same unusual username as the one you use in your online community, you're unknowingly identifying yourself. Eek! If you get busted complaining about your paycheck, you may not see one next week. It's best to keep online community discussions focused on job searches or your career questions.
4. Consider participating in a professional networking group of trusted friends that connects via private email discussion.
Unless your significant other, closest friends, or immediate family members are in the same field, your professional financial questions could be too specific for them. The best professional financial advice I've received has been in response to questions I've posed to my long-trusted networking group via private email. If our email list was archived and posted online, there's no way our discussions would be as open about the dollar details.
5. Pay attention to the rules.
If your networking group offers opt-in email lists, the organizers should also be clear about which topics are appropriate for which list, and then you might want to lurk for a bit before chiming in with financial topics so you don't break any unwritten rules. For example, a small business group might have a list for legal topics, which would be a good fit for your zoning question; it may also have a financial list, which is where you'd ask about salary trends for employees in your city, or recommendations for financing your next company car.
6. When in doubt, rule it out.
When it comes to talking finances outside your home and especially online, your safest bet is stay on the cautious side.
What other financial etiquette rules would you recommend? Join the discussion in Connect: Professional Women's Network, the first-of-its-kind digital destination for women to network, discuss, and share their personal and professional successes, brought to you by Citi and LinkedIn.
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