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When I Connect on Social Media (and When I Don’t)

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 Instagram and Twitter.  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. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn though!
  • 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.
  • Facebook: The Resonating Life: This is my group where I post about issues that I think are important to think about where you intersect with the work you do 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.

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 article.

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’m not in control of my brand.

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10 Comments

  1. Dan Schell

    Yes, thank you for this. “What is FaceBook for?” Has been a topic lately. Just one more voice in the conversation, but it is good.

  2. Ken Mattsson

    Thanks Dan! I’m glad that’s helpful for you. I think that too often people aren’t thinking about what they are doing with their social media, and I’m really trying to model a thought out plan. Good luck!

  3. Kevin Haynes

    Ken, I like how you spell it all out here. I too like the fact that there are different places to connect with different people for different reasons. I like the “open networker” concept (thanks for sharing that link, I didn’t know there as an official term for that), as I try to reciprocate anyone who makes an attempt to get to know me. Like you, just because I’m their “friend” Online doesn’t mean that I’m going to pay attention to them. Its when an additional connection is made either offline or on that makes them standout that really gets me interested in what they have to say. For me it all boils down to turning an Online connection into a more personal one. Great post!

  4. Ken Mattsson

    Kevin,

    Glad you like what I have to say. I think we need to manage how we interact online just as we do in person, and if you’re clear with yourself how you interact and where, that helps. I take my “friends” seriously, but want to have other ways that I can get to know people. As one of the speakers at the New England Xpo for Business said, inviting someone to be your friend immediately is like asking a date over your house instead of meeting at a neutral location.

  5. Mike

    Adding “open networker” even if to say “I am not an open networker” to your linkedin profile makes you show up in searches for open networkers and makes you way more likely to receive unwanted invitations. You would be better served by stating “I do not connect with strangers” or something of the sort. Linkedin highlights search phrases, so anyone searching for open networker will see that phrase highlighted on your page and probably overlook the preceding “I am not”
    I hope this helps you get less unwanted connection requests

  6. Muriel

    Here’s a situation I’m facing and I wonder what you personally would do, give your standards:

    I’ve been doing a lot of informational interviews (face-to-face) with people I don’t know. All have been very helpful and friendly. Would you add those people (informational interviewees) to your network if this were you? If not, why not?

  7. Ken Mattsson

    Muriel,

    I would add these people if you felt you made a connection and you felt they would be open to connecting with you on LinkedIn. It’s a professional network, and if you’ve connected professionally and they’d be open to it, I would definitely do it. That’s the reason you’re doing your informational interviewing to increase your network.

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