Friending everyone you meet – what’s up with that?

9 Apr

Not so long ago, social networks were pretty straightforward:  MySpace & Facebook were for friends, Linkedin for business contacts, and a bunch of others for everything in between.  If you met somebody (online or off) that you got on with you connected with them on one of the first two, if you met somebody you were doing business with and liked (or wanted to) you connected with them on the latter.  They were, in one way or another, qualified contacts.  Seems like in the last year or so particularly, the boundries between them all have gotten blurred.  I’ve had facebook ‘friend’ requests from people whose name I don’t know, or whose face I don’t recognise.  Met them once, was on a conference call or in a meeting… exchanged cards at a conference.

Twitter self-polices in a way, in that if you’re following somebody who drives you crazy, you’ll quickly unfollow or ignore them.  Part of the beauty of Twitter is that it’s a great way to connect with folks you didn’t know previously. That’ll be the subject of a different post though…

My point is that connections run the risk of losing value.  If you connect with everyone you meet on linkedin, how valuable is that connection to you or your network?  If you can’t vouch for that person personally, is the fact that you’re linked of any worth?

Personally I try to only connect only with people I consider to be friends, or folks who I like  or liked working with and respect.  There’s a good deal of crossover between Facebook and Linkedin for me within those two groups (a different issue), but the same rules apply.

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3 Responses to “Friending everyone you meet – what’s up with that?”

  1. Ian Sohn April 10, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    It’s all driven by this race to see who can amass more numbers (friends, followers, whatever) in an effort to be more ‘influential.’

    Maybe one day soon we’ll get over the excitement of having a big ‘friend’ list (realizing it’s all about quality rather than quantity) and behave more responsibly when the next big social network comes around.

    I’ll tell you one thing – it would be a lot different if, for example, Facebook or LinkedIn made you pay .25 cents per friend. That would very quickly get people to consider who they really want to connect with.

  2. Marc Sirkin April 14, 2009 at 11:03 pm #

    Didn’t we read and write about this during the myspace run up.

    Weren’t there a bunch of stories about amassing huge numbers of friends?

    Wasn’t there a story about kids using myspace to create fake profiles?

    Haven’t we had this conversation at least once (or 10 times) before?

    Yep, we sure did.

  3. Steven July 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Great post Kai. I have noticed a few people posting requirements for accepting friend requests on LinkedIn, but there isn’t really a place for this on Facebook. It would be great to have a survey on Facebook that potential friends have to take to submit a request, and if you feel they are better as LinkedIn contacts, the survey would ask them to go there. This would, at the least, set the expectations, resulting in fewer unintentional insults.

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