I need to confess something.
I need to get something off my chest.
I need to tell you why I refused your friend requests over the past two years on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
I want to say I am sorry for reading your messages and requests to be my friend, for me to join your networks and for you to join mine. You wanted me to share myself with you on a deeper level outside of this blog and you invited me into your inner sanctum — and I said no.
I tried to rationalize that unless you commented here, I didn’t know you. If I didn’t know you, I reasoned, I couldn’t trust or respect you. So, I said no.
For the longest time, I refused to connect with you because I was too obsessed with my own rules of how social networking sites should be used. I didn’t think that you wouldn’t understand my rules and I hadn’t considered that social karma of my decisions would haunt me.
I abused our relationship for selfish reasons.
And, I’m sorry.
Two years later… to today
David Armano introduced influence ripples in August 2006. While he focused on the interconnectedness of links between blogs, his description goes to the heart of what social media means.
There are multiple ripples overlapping, happening in a three dimensional space—in real time. If this were animated, the ripples would not disappear, but radiate. However more recent ripples would come into focus as new thoughts, conversations, and interactions happen over time.
I recently started throwing out my social media rules and embracing the ripples that were always there but I chose not to see.
I started with Facebook and began accepting friend requests from people who weren’t family members, former coworkers and classmates, or close friends. I routinely peruse through friends of friends whose names look familiar, and send them requests of my own. Implemented privacy settings now restrict certain photo albums and other items from being seen by anyone who’s not in specific lists.
Twitter was next where I began indiscriminately following and connecting with pretty much everyone. Using tools like Twiangulate and Tweepml, I’m identifying and reaching out to people who are involved in the PR, communications, media, and government sectors. I poke my eyes in my Twitter stream a few times a day to retweet and reply to someone here, interject into a new conversation there.
LinkedIn is the third networking site I’m tackling, where I’ve decided to transform my connection mantra from people I explicitly trust and respect (and can therefore refer and recommend without blinking) into sending connection requests to people around the country who meet objective criteria. In recent days, I’ve traded messages with people I’ve never met and never heard of — and who I not only share mutual friends with, but also mutual insights on subjects we both believe.
Social media is about being social. Duh, you might say. But how many of you are growing your networks with people you don’t know at all — and would never know if they didn’t send you a message to connect?
I will openly accept any friend requests on Facebook or on LinkedIn. You can also interact with me on Twitter. I think three is a good number for now. There are other online communities where I’m active, but not to the extent of these.
It’s important to add that I don’t share the same information everywhere, taking a cue from Penelope Trunk about how to portray yourself across the web.
Mashing all social media together to create one image of ourselves doesn’t make sense because we are all already accustomed to showing certain parts of ourselves only in certain parts of our lives. We all know, for instance, that women don’t talk about blow jobs at work, even though they give plenty of them. And men don’t talk about the details of project management on a date, because they’d never get another blow job. It’s acceptable to have different places in your life for different aspects of your personality. So don’t flatten yourself by presenting only perfect consistency across Twitter and LinkedIn and blogs and Facebook.
My Facebook updates are a mix of social media insights and Newburyport politics, my LinkedIn updates are more accomplishment-centric, and my Twitter updates run the gamut of everything.
Here’s to connecting.
How do you connect with people? Are you also opening the walls, or do you keep your networks more closed?