I was never the queen of the popular crowd. But I do have a core group of really good friends, and I have a lot of other friends all around the world, all at different places in life, all with different personal goals, dreams, and aspirations.
And some of them I’ve never met in person.
With the rise in popularity of social networks comes a rise in virtual friend-making. For me, each social network represents a different set of people that I ‘know.’
Without question, this is the place through which I keep in touch with people that I’ve known personally in the past. From buddies I’ve had since kindergarten, to those guys I met at a poker night last week at a mutual friend’s house, this is essentially my virtual uber-address book. If I’m looking to send Christmas cards to people, I get their addresses here. If I need to text a friend, but I just got a new phone that has none of my numbers in it, I get their phone number here. If I want to check the status of my good friends’ relationship, I can find that out immediately here (and as an aside, why is everyone I know getting engaged at the same time?). With the exception of less than five friends on my list of 400+, I have met all of my Facebook connections in real life, and I don’t intend to change that policy.
Most of us have high expectations for our respective careers, and networking is key to success. Thus LinkedIn came into the picture. Like Facebook, I have met 99% of my connections in person; I’ve worked with them, done consulting for them, or graduated from the same university as them. I use LinkedIn for business reasons: for problem-solving, for discussion, for recruiting, and for recommending people I admire.
I started out limiting my MySpace friends to only those people I know from real life encounters, but it has since spiralled a bit out of control. Now, though I check MySpace infrequently at most, my friends list includes a hodge-podge of people I have met in real life, musical artists and actors I admire, and randoms who either boost my mob size in the application Mobsters or those people who just look like they would be interesting. I see no real use to MySpace, and thus don’t usually include it in my top lists of social networks, but I figure most of you know it and/or have used it and would be interested in hearing my thoughts.
Honestly, I think I’ve met perhaps ten of my followers in real life, and the same applies for those people I’m following. I use discretion when following people; I will never be one of those users (and you know who they are) who follow multiple thousands of people in the hopes that they build their followers list. That kind of thinking doesn’t work for me. Instead, I have chosen those I follow selectively: either they are social media aficionados and marketing professionals, or they mention an interest in their bio that really catches my eye, like “video game developer” or “entrepreneur” or “start-up junkie.” And from the looks of it, most of my followers are doing the same thing.
How do you handle your social networks? Are each of them dedicated to a specific group of people in your life, or do you not make any exceptions when inviting connections or accepting invitations?