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Social Networking—Lot’s of Friends, No One Wants To Know Me

by David Brock on February 5th, 2009
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am a relative newbie in Social Networking. I’ve belonged to LinkedIn for years, but really haven’t paid attention to it until the past 6 months.

About 18 months ago, at Jeff Pulver’s suggestion, I joined Facebook, I’m still trying to figure out how to use it, though it has enriched my relationships with my nieces and nephews—somehow they think I am marginally cooler. I know what a wall, is, I’m still struggling with pokes. Someone poked me for the first time the other day, I didn’t know whether to say “Ouch,” jump, poke back or what.

I’m a late adopter, I’ve just gotten into Twitter, joining about 2 weeks ago. So far, I’ve only sent 3 tweets, I think I’m concerned about dropping my phone into the urinal?????? In any case, I’m still struggling with Twitter.

Every week, I get invited to join at least one other social networking tool—I used to accept, but now turn all those down—I don’t know how to keep all those social networks current. I’ve decided to focus everything on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

The most confusing phenomenon is that I get lots of requests to be “friends.” These really confuse me. The one’s from people I know who are just finding me are great. But 80% of the requests come from people who I don’t know. I have no idea how they found me and when I look at their profiles, I don’t know why they would ever want to friend me or follow me. It’s great for my ego—imagine someone wants to follow my every tweet or wants to have someone like me in their network. I never knew I could have so many friends!

People have already told me I’m strange—I’ve accepted this, but I have this “unusual practice” with these friend requests. Before I accept a request from people I don’t know, I ask to spend a few minutes on the phone with them. I want to learn a little about them, what they do, what they want to achieve and how I might help them. I want them to know the same about me.

I take networking seriously. My Rolodex (I wonder what term will take the place of Rolodex as that concept goes into decline) is large with very deep, quality relationships. Colleagues call out my networking capabilities and my ability to make quality connections with people. I value my network deeply and guard the relationships carefully.

I extend this practice into the world of social media and networking. That’s why I ask my potential “new friends “ for a phone conversation. The reactions to these requests is what really interests me.

About 10% of the people respond and we have a great phone call, they become my friends. I’ve actually been able to leverage a few of these relationship to mutual benefit, for example introducing a talented new friend to someone I know is looking for their services.

Many of my new friends are “surprised” by the request, but want to adopt it as a best practice.

The most distressing thing is that 90% of my requests go unanswered. It’s ego shattering! What’s happening to my potentially new friends? We haven’t gotten to know each other and already they are abandoning me! Why did they ask me in the first place, didn’t they really want to be friends after all?

Also, I’ve been unfriended once—but the individual sent me a nice note, saying he wanted to focus his Facebook relationships on personal relationships. We transferred our relationship to LinkedIn. But I’m worried, are my expectations going to start having my current friends abandon me? Should I take it personally?

I don’t understand, can anyone help me? As a newbie, it’s a real struggle!

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  1. Geoff permalink

    I have found it’s very helpful to keep different networks for different things. I keep Facebook for pretty much just good freinds from real life, old college/high school/elementary school friends, paddlers, etc.

    I use LinkedIn/Plaxo a little more broadly. When I was working on my Startup (High Merit- where we crossed paths) I met all kinds of interesting people. I network much more loosely there, but still try and keep it to folks I’ve at least met and talked too. And if someone asks for a connection/introduction, I’ll be upfront about how well I can speak of them.

    Twitter? Well, I’ll pretty much accept any follower there. I’m if you want to follow me.

    Geoff Jennings

  2. Dave Brock's Blog permalink

    Great comment. In reality I am adopting the same practice as you. Facebook is family and good friends. LinkedIn is a broader network of more professionally oriented acquaintances.

    Thanks for the comment, I’m now following you on twitter, I’m there at /davidabrock.

  3. Robin permalink

    Hello there,
    This comment is really late, but your post was so interesting and heartfelt.

    Unfortunately, most people are really not interested in really knowing each other. That would involve not just broadcasting one’s thoughts, but listening and reflecting back the thoughts and feelings of another. It’s sad, but true. Thank you for your post! I have the same problem in my day-to-day interactions with people. Don’t take it personal, though it will make you feel lonely.

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