Joining Social Sites — The Criteria

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Over the past weekend, I was privileged to present at a Writers Conference called “Write on The Sound” here in the Seattle area. My topic was Technology for Writers and it spoke to how writers can use things like blogs to help market their work.

One of the great questions asked during the presentation was “how many social sites like MySpace or Facebook should I sign up for and participate in for my work?”

We face the same question as Cubicle Warriors, don’t we? Should I have a blog, join LinkedIn, go nuts on Facebook — or forget the whole thing?

I don’t think you can forget the whole thing; that would hurt your career management networking. But, there are some criteria you can use to decide how you spend your time. Here’s mine:

  1. The audience is everything. You should spend time on the social sites that drive sales to your target market. If tween-something is your thing, then MySpace is your place. For Cubicle Warriors, it more often is career management blogs and places like LinkedIn and (my personal favorite, because it is a career management tool) Jibber Jobber.
  2. Your time is everything. You can only spend so much time focusing on your network. Make sure you are spending your time where it is easiest and gives you the most bang for your buck. What’s the easiest way to stay in contact with your work associates, past work associates and friends? That’s where you go.
  3. Know your criteria for accepting social connections with “friends.” And feel comfortable with the criteria.

My criteria for accepting connections are simple: I know you, have interacted with you, and believe that you “get it” in my definition of competence. If you do, you’re in. If you don’t, you won’t. Simple.

You might not agree with that definition, but that’s OK. I have to feel comfortable with the definition; you don’t. As I don’t need to feel comfortable with your definition of what makes a valued connection.

Electronic social networking will continue to increase in importance as the business of commerce becomes global and your best networking contacts are on the other side of the planet.

Knowing why you will connect with someone will make the difference in having a valued connection or merely someone on a list.

  • Hi Scot

    The social sites I use to stay in contact with my network aren’t especially ground-breaking or insightful, but the reasons why I use them fit in quite neatly with your criteria (which I why I liked your post so much!).

    I tend to use LinkedIn as a purely “professional face” to maintain up-to-date contact details with clients, colleagues and acquaintances; Facebook to maintain closer and more frequent social relationships with friends and colleagues; and finally Bebo to keep in contact with very close friends and family.

    I also have profiles on communities which are specific to my profession, but most of these only require updating every few months. They all include a direct link to my LinkedIn profile too.

    The Bebo and LinkIn use came first and kind of naturally evolved, then when FaceBook came on the scene I resisted signing up until I had thought out what I was going to use it for. I’ve had invites for other social sites, but I’m not interested in signing up unless I can see the value of them. Aside from the time-wasting aspect, it only clogs up my inbox!

    I’ve found this system has solved the problem of what information I felt was appropriate to share within specific social spheres. And it really does help me maintain my network in a way that just wouldn’t be possible with just plain old email. I don’t exactly police it with military-like precision, but I do sometimes ignore a friendship request or politely refer a would-be contact to my profile on a more suitable site. But believe it or not, not everyone is on LinkedIn or Facebook or Bebo, so good old email is still one of the best ways for me to keep in contact!

    • Scot Herrick says:

      @Sarah Dillon
      om reviewing this comment from Sarah many months later, there is much here that rings true. It’s the social site strategy implemented in a way that is consistent and reflects your personal brand.

      Nice going Sarah, even from this much later reply.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    Thanks, Sarah. It is interesting how much discussion there is on the Internet about the tools and not remembering that tools are meant to make something else easier.

    If the objective is effectively staying in contact with your network, for example, what are the tools that best enable you to do that?

  • Very well said, Scot, especially criteria 2 and 3. A bad workman blames his tools, and social networking sites are just that – tools to help manage what we already do by some other means. In my experience, those who complain about how much time social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) take up, either for themselves or their employees, don’t “get” this at all!

    I enjoy your blog and the insights you offer, keep it up!


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