Sunday, October 28, 2007

Beginner's 5 Step Guide to Using LinkedIn and Facebook

The topic of Facebook vs. LinkedIn is like humidity in Miami - always present. And perhaps as hot too. Zoli brings up the topic again with his post titled Facebook Just Ain’t For Business, Get Over It (Business Needs Social Networking in Context) and points to this article in New York Times. Scoble has a nice piece on The you-don’t-need-more-friends lobby.

These are interesting discussions but if you are a beginner looking to understand how to deal manage your accounts on LinkedIn and/or Facebook, here are some questions to ask that can help you:
  • Would you take a phone call from this person? If you receive an invite on LinkedIn or Facebook, ask yourself if you would take a call from this person on a busy Monday morning. If not, you may want to not have him be part of LinkedIn. Now, would you take a call on Friday evening from this person? If not, you should reject them on Facebook.
  • Would you invite this business contact to a BBQ at your home? Ask this question when you get a Facebook from one of your LinkedIn contacts (or any business contacts). If the answer is no, don't add them to your Facebook account - its way too personal. Even if you don't say or do much on Facebook, this person can now see who you affiliate with - it can be embarrassing if your cousin from Vietnam posts his massage pictures, or worse - the ending - happy or otherwise.
  • Do you really need to know her direct? A lot of contacts are made by people through one level of indirection. A friend of my friend finds my profile and sends me a request to connect. Unless I really want to get to know this person first hand, I gain little by accepting her request except to not look rude. In fact, when I add her to my contact list, I loose valuable information about how I know her - through my friend. The social graph captures useful information on who knows who through whom - let's not loose that. Its like going to a party and being asked about the host "How do you know Larry?" - through Charles, of course.
  • How do you balance the Links Budget? After a certain number of links, you may need to balance your "Links Budget". This means you must try to delete a contact for every new contact you add. And remember, LinkedIn does not notify the deleted contact so its unlikely they will notice. Before you delete, you may want to download the contact information to your address book. (There is a download vCard button on each LinkedIn profile that you are connected to .)
  • Can you really be friends with 437 people? For most of us, its hard to maintain 3-5 close friendships and 20-40 business contacts on a regular basis. Technology can bump that number up 5 to 10x but the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Also, when you have 437 contacts, none of your contacts feel special. The great Groucho Marx once quipped, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

I will leave you with some quotes to ponder on when making these decisions.
"Those truly linked don't need correspondence. When they meet again after many years apart, Their friendship is as true as ever." - Deng Ming-Dao

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." - Mark Twain

"Good friends, good blogs and millions in first round funding: this is the ideal life. " - I would have said.

"The bird a nest
the spider a web
the man friendship." - William Blake

Now, don't be a stranger. Good friends leave comments!


Jake said...

This debate makes me laugh. All these networks are what you make of them and are also a function of which contacts you make.

Personally, I like the weak ties answer, i.e. weak ties can answer a lot of questions that strong ones can't. I don't need a social network to maintain my strong ties, so for me, it's all about weak ties.

I don't really have any rules around accepting invites anymore. That got too gray. Basically, anyone bored enough to friend me can do so.

Unknown said...

I agree that FB and LinkedIn help maintain weak ties. Although strong ties over time become weak and weak ones get invigorated when you talk.