Making Connections via Social Media

In a previous blog post, I wrote about making connections on LinkedIn and promised I’d address the concept in further detail on a future post.  I recently delivered a presentation at the Penfield Public Library on Using Social Media as a Job Search Tool.  During the Q&A I was asked my philosophy on how I use each of the primary social media sites to connect with people.  Given the personal timeliness of the topic, here’s my approach on networking using social media:

LinkedIn:  I truly view LinkedIn as an electronic Rolodex.  I’m not a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker = will connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime).  Every single one of my connections I’ve either met in person, worked with in a client-vendor relationship, spoke with on the phone or had enough other interaction to feel comfortable connecting.  Should someone ask for my assistance with names or a list of people based on certain criteria, I want to have confidence that I’m providing valuable help.  With all due respect to the IT guy in Siberia who asked me to connect, if I’ve had no interaction to date, then I’m just not comfortable exposing my network that way.  I’ve worked hard to build it and I value it.

Twitter & Google+:  I tend to follow locals (Rochester area), those in my industry (broadly:  advertising, PR, marketing, research, social media, publishing), and those I’m connected to on LinkedIn.  Twitter is open networking in the sense that it’s not permission-based (assuming a public profile).  I’ve had many conversations with people on Twitter that grew over time and led to a LinkedIn connection and/or a face-to-face networking opportunity.  I don’t automatically follow people back who follow me, and I do pay attention to their bios, # followers and # following.  If I suspect spam or MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) prospecting, I tend to not follow/follow-back.

Facebook:  I view Facebook as more of a personal networking space, so I tend to only connect with people I know very well.  Because my profile is mostly locked-down on the privacy settings, I’m not concerned with the quantity of friends I have; it’s the quality of the interaction that matters most.  I have some friends who have in excess of 1,500 Facebook friends.  Depending on how they use Facebook, that might be just fine for them.  However, for me, I don’t need complete strangers seeing some of the detail I choose to share via Facebook.

Foursquare:  I tend to view Foursquare as I do Facebook.  I do share some of my check-ins publicly, but most are for friends only.  Chances are, if we’re close enough to be friends on Facebook, we’re close enough to be friends on Foursquare.

The above represent how I connect with people using Social Media.  I make no claims that it’s the only philosophy or that those who are more stringent or open are either right or wrong.  I always recommend that you think about the approach that makes sense with your goals for social media and networking.  Ultimately, you also need to do what you’re most comfortable with.  When you’re new to connecting via social media, it can take some trial and error to find the right approach.  Once you do, social media becomes a lot more fun!

What’s your philosophy when it comes to making connections via social media?

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