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Social Networking, Form Triumphs Over Substance

by David Brock on August 29th, 2007

I’ve been curious about the phenomenon of adding friends, passing on introductions, etc. The two networks I actively participate in are LinkedIn and Facebook.
Recently, though LinkedIn, I have received invitations from several old, long lost colleagues. I have anxiously responded, accepting their invitations. With every response, I send an email, expressing my delight at re-connecting and suggesting a personal dialog–email, voice to voice or otherwise. In most cases, I am disappointed. These contacts don’t respond, I’m added to their list, but never hear from them. What’s the purpose? I guess they are shooting for quantity over quality.
My physical world networks are very precious to me. I have started to pare my virtual world networks to mirror-in principle-my physical world networks. I want meaningful relationships with people who I trust, whose views I value and who, I hope, value mine. I don’t want to be a part of a list to see who has the most.
I’m confused also by those people who “accept any invitation” in their virtual networks. I know they don’t in their physical networks, why the change. Maybe it is only for self promotion, rather than valuing the relationship.
When form triumphs over substance, the network loses value. I think the value of networking is to establish relationships, to invest in those relationships. Without this, what’s the point?
Any thoughts, reactions?

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