Unless you have been hiding under a rock, as a person who deals with the business of networking on the internet, you are aware that Linkedin, Facebook and MySpace are important places to see and be seen. If you are growing a business and want exposure and connection with your target audience, it is critical to explore these online communities.
The question is, how in the world do you know how or where to be seen, and most importantly, with whom?
I was drawn into these networks quite haphazardly. I had been reading around the web for a long time (from people like Guy Kawasaki) that it was a “good thing” to get a profile up on Linkedin and Facebook, so I spent a few minutes slapping together a basic profile. Soon, known acquaintances and business contacts sent requests to be connected, so I accepted.
Recently, I have been getting lots of requests for connections from unknown people. What is particularly confusing are email messages that say:
I would like to add you to my network in Linkedin.
I rack my brain trying to figure out who John Doe is, thinking:
- Do I know him from somewhere?
- Is he a cyber stalker or a genuinely nice guy?
- Is he good at what he does, creative, ethical and hardworking, characteristics of people that would seem logical to link to on a business networking site?
The closest I have come to in-depth John Doe research is looking at his online profile, specifically recommendations and friends. So far, my rigorous criteria for acceptance are:
- Seems like a nice person
- Has some cool friends
- Doesn’t appear to do any harm in the work he performs
- What the heck, press “Accept”
Somehow, I think I am missing the boat on using these tools, and would love to get some guidance from those that are “power users.”
So for those of you more experienced with these environments:
- What criteria do you use for evaluating whether to link to or “friend” someone or not?
- Should you worry excessively about the values, skills and qualifications of those you link to, or is the idea to build bridges with a big, happy diverse online family?
- What are good ways to ASK for a link from someone else? I am totally convinced that the generic “I would like to add you to my network” is a bad idea if you don’t know the person you are requesting the link from. At a minimum, it seems like “I have read your blog for a year,” or “I never forgave you for rejecting me after our first date,” or “I sat next to you in the cafeteria once in grammar school” would at least provide a little bit of context to the person evaluating the connection.
- What are the specific benefits of Linkedin, MySpace and Facebook for small business owners and entrepreneurs?
As for Facebook, I know that it must be a good thing for small business owners, as John Jantsch jumped on recently and invited me to his Duct Tape Marketing group. I am just not sure yet how I should be using it, so in the meantime, I am accepting friend invitations and assuming that I will see the light soon.
The Wall St. Journal Online folks alerted me to this humorous insight on “friending” your boss in a cube environment, created by WSJ Cubicle Culture columnist Jared Sandberg. He says:
“Like email and “buddy lists” before them, social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace provide a definition of the word “friend” so expansive that it includes perfect strangers. They assist existing social relationships, letting people easily plan events, share pictures and keep up-to-date with far-flung friends. Once they penetrate the office, however, such sites can create awkward moments, particularly with colleagues who commit the social felony of attempted hipness.”
I welcome your thoughts on any or all of the questions I posed above.
[…] For the newly initiated to the world of social media networking, it always helps to get a sense of the culture and here is an excellent tool to help one get started. Pam Slim, posted this article in July 2007 titled, “Facebook, My Space and Linkedin Conundrums: Are there any rules for social / business network… […]
You know, I wrote about the same thing a couple of weeks back, I linked back to you this morning.
On the topic of LinkedIn, there seems not to be any division between people who want to be your friend and people who you want to be your friend…in the professional world, its almost akin to insulting someone by exclusion.
I use both LinkedIn and FaceBook, although I much prefer to maintain my LinkedIn profile ( http://www.tomcoombs.info/ ).
Good luck in navigating the social waters.
NO! I don’t want to be your friend.
Here is an interesting phenomenon that, if you have used any of the social networking sites ( Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or similar ) you may well have experienced. Being “Friended” by someone that you don’t want to be “Friended” by.
Great post and discussion, folks. I’ve tried a few of these social networks, but I’m not quite sure how to use them effectively without eating up enormous amounts of time. I’m currently using facebook and am finding it is one way of connecting with my niche (moms [and some dads] with children with disabilties), but I’m cognizant of the fact that “totally letting loose” could backfire on my professional/business reputation. I’d love to see some tips/guidelines on how to effectively use facebook. I think there is fine balance between having fun and socializing in a somewhat public space and not doing anything that may harm your business. Or, maybe I’m too prudish??
I also realize that next month another network could be the “hot” one, so how many of these things should I join? And how much time should I waste, er, I mean, invest?
More On Facebook
Looks like interest in Facebook is continuing: It’s Facebook Week! Over at Read/WriteWeb, it’s Day One of Facebook Week. You can join the Facebook group for Read/WriteWeb readers and learn a little about the platform. During the rest of the
I’ve used LinkedIn and Ryze and need to upgrade my profile a bit. While I am not totally stingy, I do think I have to have a clue (or at least and understandably link) to someone before I “accept” them. What’s the point of having someone in your network if you wouldn’t feel comfortable hooking them up for a conversation with a personal or business colleague who wanted their services?
I really liked this post by Guy Kawasaki on doing your profile well http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/01/linkedin_profil.html and also this on Dave Taylor’s site regarding rejecting requests for links http://www.askdavetaylor.com/if_i_reject_a_linkedin_connection_request_do_they_know.html
Myspace already irrelevent – Facebook – or what???
My “friend” Pam Slim wrote about her concerns with the various online social/professional networks. First, she didn’t mention IT Toolbox – rude… Just kidding Pam… The truth is, Pam is not really a “friend” in the vernacular that we spend…
I was indeed a bit cranky. Part of what set me off is that I’m tired of we normal/nice people having to adjust to the abusers (spammers, trolls, etc.) who seem to almost ruin every cool thing that comes along. After sleeping more than 2 hours, and reading these great posts, you have all reminded me that we need to fight those who would ruin things. I think I’ll at least give Linkedin and Facebook a shot to see where they might fit in the whole Andy scheme of life. Pam needs to stop making it sound like 40 is so danged old though. 🙂 Remember, we seasoned professionals may be more set in our ways, but it is our great wisdom that…
..oh you’re right, we’re old. I forgot was I was going to say.
In the past (more that 2 months ago) the dividing lines were clear…
bebo – 7 to 14
MySpace – 14 to 21 (unless you are in a band or involved in the music industry)
FaceBook – 18 to 30
LinkedIn – 21 to 65+
MyBlogLog – age didn’t matter
Bebo and MySpace were used as marketing tools. FaceBook mostly by university students and LinkedIn for business.
Then FaceBook opened their API. They want people to write applications which work on FaceBook. Tech companies are now sniffing around FaceBook for the creater of applications in the same way that they have been looking at the open source communities… as potential talent pools.
This means that there has been a major shift to FaceBook by large companies, and the social media commentators have followed.
That’s why numbers on FaceBook have exploded. And that’s why there are lots of invites form there.
On LinkedIn, it seems that people can only send invites. Once you are linked there, the person’s current e-mail address is available, so any further actions through LinkedIn is hidden.
When it comes to linking… I’m on FaceBook and LinkedIn (but I do look at MySpace bands), I have simple rules for “friends” or “contacts”.
1) Do I know who this person is? Have I worked with them? Have I met them?
If the answer is yes, then I’ll quite happily link/approve the link. If I know them or if I have met them quite a bit, then the unadorned “linking” message is fine.
2) Does the name ring a bell…
I’ll research first. If I don’t know them, even if I know of then, I won’t link.
Of course if it is someone I really admire… I’ll e-mail them first to make sure it’s not a spam / identity theft thing. If that person replies… its probably the real thing
3) Do I read their blogs? Do they read mine?
In my case, the address used for the social networks is not the same as on my blog. (Doesn’t matter for MyBlogLog). However it means that I sort of know the person… the check used in rule 2 applies if I want the link.
4) Don’t know them or of them
Trash… (unless personalised to tell me how I know them, and even then…) But I will send a “decline” message telling them why.
There is one thing you didn’t cover with these… the “I’ll always write’s”
When camp is breaking up for the summer (or the gaeltacht as it was in my case) you swap addresses with the other attendees promosing that you’ll write. I suspect a similar attitude strikes but using an Internet tool of some flavour.
If a company closes, there is a flurry of Social media links so that e-mail addresses can be kept flowing (that’s why my linkedIn number is so high). You mentioned this a few years ago with the HP closures, but not the contact details.
In the case of MyBlogLog… if a person keeps going to your site, the system will link them to you as an admirer. If you are interested in them, you can upgrade them to a contact. Useful, but not the same thing as the other social network sites since it measures what you do rather than who you know.
But it does give good stats.
hope it helps…
Facebook MySpace and Linkedin friends
Escape from Cubicle Nation asks Are there any rules for social/business networking? Were talking about Facebook, MySpace and Linkedin here.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, as a person who deals with the business of networking on the…
I wrote a book, How To Negotiate Like A Pro, and decided to open a MySpace account to interface with other authors and readers. For the picture I put my Boston Terrier, Betty. The upshot is that I now have 200 plus Boston Terrier friends and my criteria now is generally whether you are or have a Boston Terrier. So much for the networking with authors. I am now thinking I should take this as an omen and write a children’s book about Boston Terriers.
I’m 23 and have been on facebook since my college joined back in 2004. It’s a great way to keep in touch w/old friends and has nice features (sharing pictures, sending messages, sharing your latest status, etc). I tend to use the ‘groups’ on facebook for fun, but many are just to say ‘I belong to this’ or ‘I believe Conan O’Brien is hilarious’ but I don’t think any of the groups I’m in are very active.
After starting my second ‘real’ job after college I joined LinkedIn when my co-workers told me about it. For me, Facebook=for friends, LinkedIn= professional network . I also have settings on Facebook to prevent non-friends from viewing personal info. The one thing I’ve come to realize is that Facebook can cross into the business arena because it does provide work/employment information, which I think will be useful when I’m searching for my next job. It will be interesting to see how Facebook evolves as the original users become older. Social networking is definately an interesting topic. To read about LinkedIn from a recruiting perspective ERE.net has many articles on the topic- here’s one of them: http://www.ere.net/blogs/CyberSleuthing/5906A153A51141918B6697BF535C6A2F.asp
I joined linkedin when working to recruit humanities types (researchers, linguists) and attorneys to a consulting firm that had grown out of a technology company. My networks include people from many circles. My limited observation is that the people who have the most “true” connections seem to be technical managers and non-techies in technical companies.
Having built my first intranet in 1994, I think I still fit into sort of old-fashioned tech culture (is that an oxymoron?!) The more cutely social the online venue, the fewer tech-savvy folks there are, and the less apt I am to use it. Like someone else posted, I don’t “get” myspace! My page there is skeletal. I blog, but no facebook, yahooblog, and I killed my friendster account.
The exception — my membership on the Grateful Dead forums at dead.net.
I’m 25 and female. I killed my LinkedIn, Friendster, and DeviantArt accounts in January. I committed MySpaceicide in February. I was sick of them. For me, it was really a matter of spreading my attention in way too many different directions. It was too much work to keep too many different profiles updated all of the time.
But I still use Facebook and Livejournal, and run two blogs. The move is strategic: Facebook and Livejournal are for close friend/co-worker associates, while my two blogs discuss aspects of my interests (art & design) and promote my photography side-business (recent photographic work).
I have rules: I always cross-post to my *personal* accounts (Facebook and Livejournal) what’s going on with my public blogs, but NEVER vice-versa. That way, I’m informing my close friends & relatives what I’m up to, but public face is free of personal information. I also don’t “friend” people who I’ve never had a meaningful interaction with (either in person or over the internet), and filter my profile according to how close I am to different folks.
So, I’ve found that when using social networking sites, the equation works something like this:
How much I get out of it = how many people I know X how much effort I put in to keeping in touch
Since I’m trying to start a business as a wedding and portrait photographer, online networking seems dubious to me. More and more I’m finding that there’s a greater proportion of sales that are “sealed” when I meet the client in person. So what happens with online networking for a service that’s so personal?
Reading through what some business folks have said here, I’m having second thoughts about LinkedIn, at least. It seems that if I were more patient and strategic (the way I am now with Livejournal and Facebook), I could get some benefit out of it. Does anyone else have feedback on a highly “personal” business that’s benefited from online networking?
What an excellent post! I’ve been asking some of these questions myself for a while. I think a lot of the “rules” you should play by have to do with your audience. I’m helping a friend start a web-based t-shirt company, and Facebook has been a great way for them to direct leads to their website. They also have a very targted niche they’re marketing to, so it works. Better than MySpace – because it’s very stagnate. The hoppin’ vibe at Facebook right now has Gen Y favoring it anyway, as a tip from the inside. MySpace is more about catching up once or twice with the kid you studied with for physics. So that’s one side.
But in my corporate communications job, I’m not sure our company should start creating facebook groups and myspace pages. Because it would be for little more than “brand” recognition. There’s not a lot to particpate with, and that’s what people want from social networking. Well, young people anyway. Thanks for your insights. . .I’ll be mulling this over for a while!
LinkedIn works best when you know and trust the people you connect to. To be able to consider approving their requests to reach your _other_ connections, you have to trust them – and to have that trust you need a relationship.
Some specific people (recruiters;-) work with a different model, and I understand their reasoning – they don’t trust anyone, and want the largest reach possible. But that’s not for me.
I include this discussion in “The LinkedIn Personal Trainer” – the first concise book on using LinkedIn, recently published through lulu.com:
Wow, I love the detailed and thoughtful comments on this topic everyone – it is great to get perspectives from both sides of the ideological spectrum.
Keep em coming!
And if some of my younger mentors want to weigh in, that would be great too (not that everyone that has commented so far is old or anything!), since I think you may have a different perspective as a 20-something rather than a 40-something.
I have been a LinkedIn user for several years and have found it to be useful in keeping up with my network. I am not on either MySpace or Facebook, though my kids are and enjoy connecting with their friends via home pages and groups. As Facebook’s audience moves out of the dorm and into the working world, Facebook is verging into business networking, with all the perils and potential for embarrassment that Jared Sandberg pinpoints in his clip.
On the whole, I agree with several of the commenters above that LinkedIn is a much better tool for business networking. With over 12,000,000 profiles, many of them professional people and consultants, it’s where I do most of my networking.
My friending policy is a hybrid of the “quality network” and “promiscuous linking” approaches. In general, I only connect with people already on the network, whom I personally have some relationship with, online or offline. When I invite people, I NEVER use the form letter that LinkedIn provides, but rather write a personal message letting them know that I ram across them on the network and would like to add them to mine so we can keep track.
However, I am also in the staffing and recruiting industry, where LinkedIn is an excellent tool for sourcing talent and being visible to candidates. In that context, I am linked to some proudly promiscuous linkers who boast extensive networks with thousands of people. I am linked to these people because they are in the same business, we are all looking for good candidates, and we understand that it’s better to have first degree links with just a few people who each have thousands of contacts, than hundreds of links to people with just a few contacts. It has to do with how many people who come into view as second and third degree relationships, whom you can tap into as a recruiter. The rationale is explained in a great article by LinkedIn power user Shally Steckerl:
He makes the case far better than I can, so if you’re interested in how recruiters use LinkedIn to connect with candidates (or you want to be more visible to those recruiters), I strongly encourage you to read it.
So how you use these networks depends on your goals. If your goal is to connect with your own network and by extension the peopole in their networks, a more restrictive approach is the best way to go. If you are looking to make yourself or your business visible to millions of people on a social network, then the more expansive approach advocated by the linking gurus also makes sense. But in both cases, quality of connections is a key criterion as to whether you accept invitations to link.
I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, and have been using it for several years. It’s been very valuable to me, in helping me find new business, employees, and contractors for a variety of projects I’ve needed to outsource.
It’s become my personal yellow pages. I’ve hired copywriters, attorneys, mortgage brokers, videographers, and more. I’ve had great success hiring people through LinkedIn, since I look for people who are well connected, and have a lot of recommendations.
Your question of “Quantity vs. Quality” regarding accepting links from people you barely know or don’t even know is one that has been raging among LinkedIn users since day one.
I’m in the moderate camp on that one. I used to accept anyone who wanted to link to me. Lately however, I’m becoming much more restricted, and have even been REMOVING contacts for various reasons.
I would rather have a smaller group of people who are truly interested in networking, than a big group of people who are just in a “how many connections can I get” contest.
Your message is relevant to me. I’ve used LinkedIn for about two years and my first tier network has grown to over 60 people. Some are acquaintances, yes a few slipped through, but most are business associates I trust and would recommend. One of the truly cool things about LinkedIn is you can track the growth and success of key allies and stay in touch. Another feature I enjoy using is the Answers tab, where questions are asked, answered and rated. I just started a MySpace site, mostly to connect with my nieces and nephews who live far away. I’m trying to decide if Facebook is right for me. Recently I’ve set up an account in Jobster and Flickr and am building my profiles there. It is tough to know just how useful these sites will be. Yet in this competitive world every positive step helps.
I do enjoy your sincere writing and podcasts. And I’d recommend you in a heartbeat.
I think most of the people commenting here who are writing off social networking need to start thinking more strategically about how to stay visible!
I’m a business coach and consultant who specializes in raising the visibility level of entrepreneurs. This is my expertise area so let me share some important information:
Social networking is a great way to build relationships and stay visible. Just like regular offline networking (the traditional rubber chicken luncheon), you’re there to build relationships that can blossom into new clients or new referral sources.
If you approach social networking with that same attitude, plus have a little patience, then the payoff will come but without so much impatient finger tapping.
Otherwise it’s like planting a garden then pulling up the carrots to see if they’v grown.
I have observed people try MySpace or Facebook and if they haven’t made a million in the first week or gotten any business, they write it off and say it’s lame.
Like any marketing strategy, it takes time!You just need to decide if this is the right venue for your business, your personality, and if you have a compelling enough presence and personality to make people want to get to know you better.
I’ve personally netted a lot of business by being visible on MySpace. If you know how to find the right friends, you will be able to use it to market yourself and your services. I’ve gotten lots of new clients because of MySpace, sold ebooks, and conneced with people who are now sources of referrals.
Mind you, I’m NOT a 20-something who has nothing better to do all day than hang out on web 2.0 . And my ideal clients- successful entrepreneurs, 6 figure women business owners, and business celebs in the making- are there too and connect with me.
I’m not here to say social networking is for every business owner, but for those of us who know how to work it, it’s awesome!
I have more resources here if you want to learn more:
I’ve been doing Myspace since my teenaged daughter encouraged me to. I do NOT use it for my business. After reading this, though, I feel compelled to start a LinkedIn acct for my business life. Great post!
I’m a member of the Duct Tape Marketing group on Facebook … and let me tell ya … It’s a snoozer! 🙂 There’s a couple of interesting discussions, but nothing worth checking in daily for. It’s also weird because the account is old … so people from college and my family finds me on there too. It’s just an odd mix. I think I am leaning towards just putting my “resume” on LinkedIn. (Not sure anything has come of that, either.) I generally don’t accept EVERY invitation on LinkedIn, but a few have slipped through the radar. It’s mostly people I have worked for. And heck, I’d give you a recommendation for your lovely writing any day, Pam!
I use only linkedin and I also believe in building quality vs quantity network. Thus I link only people I know personally. I don’t receive a lots of “spam” invitation, some from [ex]colleagues I never met and then I just decline. But I believe there is not a rule that works for everyone … is more about “what you want to achieve with the system” that gives you the direction.
You wrote: “Linkedin, Facebook and MySpace are important places to see and be seen. If you are growing a business and want exposure and connection with your target audience, it is critical to explore these online communities.”
**Warning** I didn’t get enough sleep last night, and I tend to be either goofy or cranky and cynical when I’m this sleepy. That said…
Sorry Pam, but I can’t agree. In my specific case, we’re talking about a target audience of fastener distributors – not exactly up on the latest, hip web tools.
More generally speaking, it seems that these communities are already being abused enough so that their effectiveness and potency are diluted. And soon Guy will be suggesting something called SpndTymHeer or NutinBtr2Do.
I can’t see spending even a few seconds of my valuable biz time trying to decide if I will be helped, harmed, or neither by pretend-buddying with yet another person who is just trying to manipulate the system. And don’t forget that in 6 months there will be a whole new group of “must-use” communities that we can’t possibly thrive without (sarcasm dripping everywhere). I know such events are not as web-cool, but would it seem useful to go to a chamber mixer and ask the first stranger you see, “Will you pretend to know and trust me if I pretend the same about you?” There are so many networking and general business tactics (on the web and elsewhere) with clearer payoff, these seem a waste.
Now to sleep and improve my general attitude.
I much prefer your raw, unedited sleep deprived comments!
I can see your point, and might also add, given some comments from my (much smarter than me) readers, it all depends on which business you are in, and how you decide to use these tools strategically. Obviously, some people use them a lot to great benefit, by selling products, recruiting great employees, etc. But as I was worried about my own flimsy criteria and strategy, it seems those that get the most value have a very clear strategy for how to use these networks, and well-developed criteria for accepting or not accepting.
I am old school like you when it comes to having to really know, like and trust someone enough to refer them to others based on experience and time together … but some days, especially in talking with some of my young mentors, I just feel old. 🙂
Get some sleep, wouldya?
When it comes to a social networking site like LinkedIn, I follow one simple rule: I never accept invitations from people I haven’t met in person and had an honest, meaningful conversation with. The same is true for sending invitations. I don’t do it unless I met them in person.
I believe in building a quality network over one with many people.
Personaly I use both.
The friends on Facebook are real friends. Business and non-business. The level of closeness on Facebook make it arkward for me to acccept people I barely know on Facebook, unless I partied (happy hour) with them before 😉
I will accept “connections” on LinkedIn from people I barely know if there is a win-win that can come out of it. As much as I love reading Guy Kawasaki’s blog and we’re both in the startup business, I wouldn’t ask him to be a connection on linkedIn even if he his a 3rd level from me…
The contact is better on Facebook but LinkedIn still has more business credibility, specially if you take the time to answer some of the questions that pop up in your field of expertise.
I’m receiving Linkedin invitations weekly from people I don’t know. I’m pretty sure the whole 7 degrees of separation is alive and well, because I don’t have one friend that is using Linkedin.
I don’t know if social networking eliminates the courting foreplay rule or am I supposed to understand the invitation from the dude from Russia to join his network?
I’m pretty sure I like good old spam better than Linkedin.
However, if any of my friends begin to join and receive new business from Russian Mobsters gone legit in business world-I just might press click and act like I’m the cool social networking guy similar to the cool exchange student from Australia who everyone wants to hang out with.
For now-I’m not Linkedin…
Since you are my buddy Matthew and we are the same age, I will take this opportunity to say that you may be having an “old geezer moment” … I only say that, because when I think of your market (military folks who are returning from the front lines to re-enter the business world), I imagine that TONS of them are communicating with family and friends via Friendster and MySpace while they are deployed abroad. If you put up a good, descriptive profile of you and your business in each social network, and didn’t solicit “friends” to be popular and hip (which we know you already are, although your teenagers may disagree), but rather to get the word out about your services, you may be surprised at the results.
My colleague Nancy Marmalejo (who added a good comment on this post) is holding a call next week I think with Suzanne Falter-Barns to talk about how to set up a MySpace page for biz outreach. She also has an e-book which she references in her comment. (http://www.comadrecoaching.com/shop/myspace.php) Just to test your assumptions, you might want to give it a whirl and see what happens.
Or you could go back to insisting that we travel by horse and carriage, write on trusty typewriters, and make copies via those purple gel thingies with hand cranks (remember those?!?)
Your fellow cronie,
I use both LinkedIn and Facebook, since I can’t stand MySpace.
I used LinkedIn extensively through my business, and provide a direct link to my profile off of my company blog. I find it’s a good way of establishing credibility since it’s essentially posting your CV/resume online.
Facebook I use exclusively with friends as a social site and nothing else.
From what I’ve seen, people in their 20’s-30’s tend to do what I do: split their life into personal and professional accounts. This eliminates any potentially embarrassing photos and comments that you’d be happy sharing with close friends from getting to potential business contacts. However, I’ve recently seen a number of people in their 30’s-50’s start adopting FaceBook as an alternative to LinkedIn. (Probably fewer embarassing stories to re-live online.)
My “friending” policy is split as well. If I have even an inkling of who someone is, I’m happy to friend them on FaceBook. However, I only add people to my LinkedIn network if I would be fine referring them to other people in my network. To me that’s meeting them face-to-face, or working with them extensively online. This clearly varies, and I’m sure some people use a much more liberal policy. (Particularly those with 2000+ in their LinkedIn networks.)
[It’s not quite as relevant here, but I would also highly recommend Plaxo. It’s a way of connecting with people you know, and as their contact info changes, it’s automatically updated in your addressbook. It’s a great tool for those who are on it.]
Good luck with your experience, and please contact me if you have any reason to follow up!