If you don’t trust a person in your social network, why are you connected?
If you don’t respect, like, or (gasp!) know the person, why are you connected?
Scrolling through my LinkedIn news feed (similar to Facebook’s, showing what my connections are liking, commenting, sharing, and updating), I recognized a while ago that I didn’t know a lot of names.
I’m partially to blame. For years I openly connected with people who shared geographic, demographic, or psychographic interests. It takes two to approve a relationship — but I initiated a lot of them. Maybe we networked at an event. Maybe we exchanged business cards. Maybe we commented on the same blogs. Maybe we shared blogging advice. Maybe we were friends of friends.
Hi, we live in the same zip code, let’s connect!
Hi, we work in the same industry, let’s connect!
Hi, we both reacted the same way, let’s connect!
Here’s the rub. If I don’t know you or don’t remember why we connected in the first place, how can I accurately talk to someone on your behalf when you ask me for a referral? How can you do the same for me? To be blunt: Who are you? (Or: Who am I to you?)
I suggest you only connect to people who make you smile.
“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” – Marie Kondo
I suggest the following actions on the top three social networks.
On LinkedIn: Remove connections with anyone you don’t recognize.
If I ask for a referral to one of your connections and either you don’t know me well enough or don’t know that person well enough, remove one or both of us.
Tip: Start with the newsfeed. If you don’t recognize someone’s name, click to their profile and peruse their job and recent experience. If you think their experience can be helpful to you, send them a short message to say hello. On the other hand, if you think their experience is irrelevant to your life and future motivations, smile and let the person go.
If you let go, go back to their profile and click the link to view mutual connections. Chances are, you might want to let some of them go too.
P.S. Edit your privacy setting to not display your name before visiting someone’s profile that you might remove. Otherwise you might get a message from someone who suddenly realizes you’re not connected.
On Facebook: Unfollow your noisy friends. You know who they are. You can remain friends but unfollowing empowers you to control your newsfeed and maintain your sanity.
Be wary if you unfriend someone. I used to suggest that action but I find that unfollowing (or 30-day snoozing) is more effective in 2020.
Tip: Dive into your friend list. The newsfeed is algorithm-oriented so you won’t see everyone. If you unfollow someone, click the link to see mutual friends. Chances are, if you unfollow one, you’ll probably unfollow the others. Smile and let go.
On Twitter: Unfollow everyone. Then follow a select few.
It’s the only way to do it properly.
I currently follow 194 people and organizations — including actress Mira Sorvino, musician MC Hammer, author Sarah Granger, CBS correspondent David Pogue, NY Times staffer Rubina Fillion, and former Obama deputy press secretary Bill Burton. Oh, and each of them follows me. I’ve engaged in countless conversations with all of them.
Create lists. One list could be for people in your geography. Another list could be for people who work in an industry. For instance, here’s a list of mine featuring people who make me go hmm.
That’s a public list but you can also create private lists that only you can see. I have a bunch of those too.
Tip: If you don’t want to unfollow everyone, then unfollow selectively. It’s okay to let go. You can always refollow.
If a relationship doesn’t exist, there’s nothing to let go. Accept the past for the past.
P.S. I previously wrote a version of this blog post in 2017. I removed a lot of text, edited the rest, and kept the same URL. Enjoy, and be safe.