Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No Mom, I Won't Friend You

It seems like everyone is on Facebook now. It's only a matter of time before my mom sends me a friend request. I'm going on record now to say I'm not going to accept it. I don't want my mom hanging out where all my friends are, especially when I feel like sailor-talking... or complaining about her (sorry mom).

Early on, I was willing to 'friend' anybody on Facebook - pretty much because I never used it. I didn't really care who was in there (which is my current approach to using Plaxo). Now that I'm actually using Facebook to keep in touch with my friends from high school, college and today, I'm starting to realize that a lot of my "friends" aren't really friends.

So what to do now? I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings by de-friending them. I've been de-friended a bunch (okay, only one time I can think of) and it stings a bit. But really, are you just trying to follow, friend or link to as many people as possible, or are you building quality relationships?

Here's my new plan for social networking...

Facebook - if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, I won't mind giving you a "poke" from time to time on Facebook:
  • Do you know the words to "Here's to the Breezes?"
  • Did you grow up in "The Home of the Red Onion?"
  • Have you ever heard me sing (try to sing) three sheets to the wind with a future American Idol finalist?
  • Did you ever date me, but don't hate me?
  • Am I married to you, or did you go to my wedding?
  • Do you know what happened that we're leaving in Vegas? Me neither.
  • Did you ever pot plants with me?
  • Do you know the names of any of my kids?
  • Do you know a story about me (or have a picture of me) that is your insurance against me telling that story about your (or showing that picture of you)?
  • Do you know whether or not I have a tattoo?
  • Or... are we friends?
Did you answer "yes" to any of these questions? If so, we're probably already connected through Facebook. Now it's not a requirement, but it's a good starting point - if we're not really friends, we shouldn't pretend we are.

LinkedIn - now LinkedIn is a different story. I think professional relationships at all levels are important, and that we're all interconnected in this smaller-than-it-seems world we work (and live in). So if we've ever met through work, have worked together in the past, or have exchanged business cards... and, we'd both like to talk again sometime, let's be connected through LinkedIn. I really know everyone of my LinkedIn contacts - and I don't get people who use other networks to brag about how many contacts they have. It's one thing to collect business cards, it's another to build meaningful relationships.

While I'm at it, here are some examples of LinkedIn requests I'm not going to accept (pulled from real examples):
  • "Can you forward my request to the CEO of this huge tech company? I know he's three degrees away from you, and you probably don't know him, but I'm sure he'd like to meet me." No.
  • "You're in the same group as me and we're from the same city. We should be contacts. Let's meet up sometime too. Oh, my name is..." No.
  • "I'm a networker, you're a networker, wouldn't you like to network together?" No.
  • "I know my LinkedIn says 500+, but I have over 5,000 contacts in TopLinked. Want to be 5,001? You should go over there too, so you can get credit for the contacts you have above 500." No.
Okay, so maybe I'm venting a bit here, but this is just lazy. LinkedIn is an incredible tool. I was an early adopter and have been blown away by the constant improvements. It's value - for me - is directly tied to the quality of my relationships through the system.

Plaxo, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, etc. - I use Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for work, it's that simple. I'm on the other ones - including the social network my college created - but it's really just to refer people to the ones I use. Plaxo is great for reminding me of people's birthdays, or for inviting people to be my friend when I don't want it too, but it doesn't do anything beyond Facebook and LinkedIn for me.

Twitter - I follow anybody I find interesting. I hope the people following me find me interesting. I don't follow people just because they follow me, nor do I think that should be a requirement. I love Twitter, and I don't mind engaging in the conversation with anyone there. It's a fantastic tool for interaction - and I'm completely open to being contacted through there. Want to get to know each other first? Twitter is great for that. I'd love to have you follow me on Twitter.

Final thought: I'm not inferring that I'm sooo important that I need to segment my social networks. That's hardly the case. I'm just saying that I think that you sometimes need to have different strategies (and messages) for your audiences. My status updates in Twitter about a cool new Web application I discovered will be interesting to my followers there, but my friends in Facebook (true story) are going to wonder what the hell a "UI" is. Likewise, everyone doesn't want to hear about my trip to the zoo or see pictures of my kids playing in leaves.

Do you have any hard and fast rules for how you manage your various social networks? Are you completely open and transparent to all, or do you limit access to your personal life in networks like Facebook?

No comments: