If you remain skeptical Facebook can be of use in your professional life, it's worth reading Boris Epstein's guide to using the popular social network to make and maintain professional relationships.
Epstein, chief executive of recruiting firm BINC, lays things out very clearly on Mashable. "Once you look beyond the obvious social features like sharing pictures and poking friends, there are plenty of ways to tap into the professional community on the world's largest social network," he says.
Epstein's most important tip: split your friends into personal and professional lists using Facebook's "Create a new list" feature. Then set your privacy settings appropriately for each list.
For example, if you don't want your professional friends to see any of your pictures, click on 'customize' and then in the 'except these people' field type in your newly formed professional friends list. Now only your personal friends will be able to see your pictures.
Next, says Epstein, explore Facebook groups in search of professional colleagues:
Enter your keyword into the search box on Facebook, and click on the 'Groups' filter to the left of the results. You can also filter down the displayed groups by drilling into a number of sub categories, including business (a good bet for many professional groups), common interest, geography, Internet and technology, and organizations.
A well-organized group will have member listings, a discussion board, wall postings, and recent news. Can't find one? Start your own.
Epstein's overall message: Don't dismiss Facebook for professional purposes just because you mainly use it for fun. There are 270 million people out there. Surely some of them are worth knowing professionally.