In our new world of social media, there are numerous new ways that we can be in contact with friends, business connections, high school classmates, and random people that we met at a party nine months ago. While two if the most prominent networks online are LinkedIn (for professional contacts or friends who you don’t mind vouching for) and Facebook (for friends, sort-of friends, random one-time contacts, etc.), there are numerous other social websites that look to connect people who share particular interests. Two that I currently and involved with are GTD Connect (for people working on productivity issues using the GTD philosophy) and Real Jock (a sports and fitness website for gay men). These are places that you can find people who have the same interests as you and share ideas. There’s a site for just about every interest; many which I am sure would surprise you as to its narrowness of focus.
In just about each of these site, there’s an opportunity to make a connection to another person. Whether it’s called a friend, link, buddy, co-worker, or whatever, it’s your way of saying that this is someone that you have a mutual understanding that you share some experience.
I have found that there are two types of approaches to this: the “open networker” and the “I-take-the-phrase-friend-seriously connector”. The Open Networker is one who sees social networking as way to expand a network and figures they will get to know you when you get into your inner circle. The other is one where they aren’t going to admit you to their secret club until you’ve already got a relationship developed outside of the venue.
There are plusses and minuses to each, and it can vary for each person within the different settings. It also depends on how you want to be seen in the world. I don’t tend to be an open networker, as I want to be able to speak with some knowledge if someone asks me about someone I’m connected with. If I really don’t know them, then 1) I won’t have a lot to say if someone asks me about them, and 2) if I want to engage them in some way, they don’t know me and will be less likely to help.So, here’s how I manage my connections in the three largest social networking sites:
LinkedIn: I only connect with people who I have had personal or professional interactions (in person or on line) previous to our connecting. I also need to feel that I could speak highly about them if asked for a recommendation. Since everyone can see your connections, you are as credible as the company you keep. If I don’t know you, I can’t recommend you.
Twitter: I’m happy to have as many people connect with me on Twitter as possible! That’s where I try to put a public face on what I do, both personally and professional. Feel free to follow me at https://twitter.com/kenmattsson.
Facebook: I have two places on Facebook to connect.
- The Spirit-Work Connection: This is my group where I post about issues that I think are important to think about where you intersect with the work you to and the spirit you are. I post meditations daily and links to resources that I think can help people. I encourage everyone (that means you!) to join the Spirit-Work Connection. It’s open to everyone, whether I have a strong personal connection or not.
- My personal Facebook Account: This is where I write about all sorts of things that come to mind. I limit this to people who I know personally outside of Facebook.
I’m more of the “get to know me first” type guy. Once I get to know you, I’ll can let you in (guess it’s the chilly New Englander in me!) Granted, you can also subscribe to this blog, and get to know me more here. Even better, post a comment about something I’ve said.
If you ask to connect with me, and I don’t know you, I’ll probably ask you where we know each other from. That will force you to say “oh, we don’t know each other.” Then I’ll probably refer you to this blog post. 🙂
I want to manage my reputation in the world, and part of my reputation is the people I surround myself with. If I don’t know you, then I can’t be sure. I’m sure you’re great, but until I know that, I’ll play coy.
So, how are you managing who you’re connected with?