How do you choose which requests to accept and which to decline? After reading Should You Clean Out Your LinkedIn Connections this morning, I started thinking about who I connect with and how I determine which relationships to initiate, maintain, and terminate. It’s easy to believe that more is better– whether it’s LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, or Twitter followers, but I don’t think this is the case. Just as I see each platform as having a different purpose, I cultivate relationships differently on each as well.
LinkedIn is touted as the place for networking and professional connections. Although I don’t use the platform to find jobs or even check on it daily, it’s the place that I’m most critical of my connections. As of this morning, I have over 500 connections on LinkedIn making it my smallest social network. Despite this, I have the urge to go through my connections and reconsider some of my connections.
I use LinkedIn to see who I’m connected to at a university when I’m job searching and I know others do the same. I’ve been asked several times by employers what I know about Jane or Jamal– candidates in their hiring pool– after they saw we were connected on LinkedIn. This is where I draw the line for my LinkedIn connections– do I know you well enough to recommend you and your work? Do you know me well enough to reciprocate? And perhaps more importantly — can you give an accurate, but also positive review of my work and our relationship if someone asked you?
Facebook is where my personal life lives. I share photos here of my family, my dog, my projects around the house, vacations, and the updates on the general humdrum of daily life. Although I don’t share anything I wouldn’t feel comfortable with strangers (or grandparents or employers) seeing, I like to keep this part of my online life personal. That said, my friends list tops 1,700.
This corner of my online life could use some pruning. My rule in the past has been “If I don’t know you or like you well enough to wish you a happy birthday, perhaps we shouldn’t be Facebook “friends” in the first place.” A bit harsh, I know. As for new friends, if I’ve never met you, there’s a very slim chance I’m clicking the accept button.
After visiting my Alma Mater’s Homecoming this weekend though, I stand by this. I ran into plenty of people I know and am still connected to through Facebook. One one hand, I felt like I know all about their lives through their status updates and photos; on the other hand, the encounters felt superficial and unnatural. My suspicions were confirmed when I read through this list of Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now. It suggests, “People may like your things–but that doesn’t mean they like you.” (italics added for emphasis) and “Genuine relationships make you happier, and you’ll only form genuine relationships when you stop trying to impress and start trying to just be yourself.”
The bulk of my interactions on Twitter have something to do with my work. I talk shop here with colleagues from across the world. One of my favorite aspects of Twitter is its non reciprocal nature. I can follow new organizations, celebrities, universities, authors, and other accounts without any expectation that they’ll engage with my content. This makes Twitter a great news source in addition to its role as a social media site. That said, when choosing who/what to follow I ask Can I learn from you? With you? I want my Twitter network to be a place that engages me, challenges me, inspires me, and teaches me.
Occasionally, I’ll log into a program like ManageFlitter to purge the list of accounts I follow. The service lets you filter out accounts based on inactivity, lack of profile picture, and accounts who are not following you back.
Instagram & Pinterest & GoodReads
In each of these places, my criteria is relatively the same: Am I interested in what you’re sharing? On Instagram I want to see beautiful and interesting photos. I don’t have to know you to find beauty in your art. On Pinterest I follow people and boards that inspire me (delusional though I may be about my crafting and cooking skills). GoodReads includes many of my readerfriends. It’s a place to easily keep track of the books I’ve read, to find more books to add to my ever-growing list, and to connect with friends who love to read.
How do you cultivate and curate your networks?