For a while, I would accept anyone’s invitation to be part of my network on LinkedIn, or as a friend on Facebook.
But as I approached and have now surpassed 500 connections on LinkedIn, and 200 on Facebook I realized that I needed to set some sort of policy to keep these networks useful. I got to the point where it started to make sense to decline invitations to connect. I’m definitely not bragging that I know a lot of people, in fact its the other way I around – that I want to get the most out of social networks. Simply, I want to ensure that I’m connected with people I know and trust. I’ve adopted the following policy, and I’m sure I’ll tweak it over time. Here it is for now….
I use LinkedIn to track and keep up to date on professional contacts. I think LinkedIn is great, and love the ability to not only track the people you know, but to to connect with others. So to make LinkedIn really useful I feel I have to know you well enough to trust you. If I’m going to broker a conversation or connection for you or someone you know, to someone I know, then I want to be confident that it will be a good use of everyone’s time. Now, how do I gauge if I trust you enough to make good use of the networking capabilities of LinkedIn? For the most part, if I’ve worked with you, (either as employees at the same company, or as a partner) and have been in at least one meeting or phone call with you, then I’ll either invite you to join my network, or accept your invitation if you send me one. That’s a broad definition of trust, but for now, it seems to work.
Basically, I have to know who you are when you invite me to connect. If I don’t know you, and you invite me to connect, then I’ll send you what I think is a polite response letting you know that I’m trying to keep my LinkedIn contacts only to people I actually know. Its not that I don’t like you, or don’t trust you, but I just don’t know you. So if you have a good reason for wanting to connect, let me know and we can trade emails or have a phone call to get to know each other. Then I’ll add you to my network on Linked In.
I’m not as big a fan of Facebook as most of the other people I know. I’m not sure why, but I just haven’t really gravitated to it as much as other people seem to. For me, Facebook is great for connecting with friends and family in a wide range of ways. Most people communicate on Facebook differently than LinkedIn, so I feel its best to use it differently. If you are a friend of mine, or somehow, even loosely, related to me, then I’ll connect with you on Facebook. Now I have a lot of people I’ve worked with over the years are connected to me in Facebook, and many of those people I would also consider friends too. And I’m connected to lots of those people in both LinkedIn and Facebook.
If you send me an invitation to connect on Facebook, and I don’t recognize your name, (I’m usually really good with remembering names), then I’ll most likely politely decline your invitation, even if we have lots of mutual friends. I know, Facebook probably even suggested we become friends, because we know lots of the same people. But I need to know you to be your friend. Maybe we’ll get to know each other at some point, and then we can be friends. I hope you don’t mind.
When I first joined Twitter, in March 2007, way before a lot of people, I joined because many of the people I worked with were on it. But I really didn’t use it, or get it. Then I decided to give it a try in early 2008 or so, and while I don’t tweet much, and still don’t, Twitter has been my indispensible source for news, trends etc. If you want to follow on me on Twitter, feel free, I’m happy to have you as a connection. I’ll check out your profile, and if you seem to be posting items that I’m interested in, I’ll follow you back.
Now there are a ton more social networks out there, (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and while I have accounts on most of them, I don’t seem to find any of them super useful right now. So if you have another social network that you think I should join, please let me know which one and why.
And if you happen to be reading this and have some opinions or feedback on my thoughts above, or have a policy of your own, either written or not, please feel free to let me know.