Sharks, I don't know about you, but my social networks are out of control. Especially LinkedIn. I am getting more requests than I can reasonably handle. This is my fault -- I belong/subscribe to Six Degrees of Dave and recruitingblogs.com, both of which published a super awesome interview with me and regularly include me on the "open networker" list.
I am grateful, and humbled by the response. I have received hundreds of requests to link, often some accompanied by supportive "you go girl" messages. Most just say that Dave told them to link to me.
But now I have a thousand untended requests to link. I have long been a proponent of open networking. But I am a careful networker. I like to know the folks I am connected to, if only virtually. I check out the profile of every contact before I accept an invitation. I try, really try to respond to every request. Gary Vaynerchuk, internet celebrity, entrepreneur and clever marketer, calls this the "Web 2.0 Hustle". His philosophy is that, to be successful, you must highly value each and every contact and seek meaningful interactions with everyone in your network. I couldn't agree more, but I am having trouble executing on this philosophy.
I am considering doing something drastic; I am considering shutting down my account until I develop a more evolved strategy for dealing with requests to link. Here is how I am considering divvying up my contacts:
LinkedIn - Professional contacts. These are folks I know, or know of, or want to know, or potentially want to know. Even though I am an open networker, I am careful about accepting invitations to link. I review profiles and determine if we have something in common, or, at the very least, if I think that someday I might want to network with you. As my contacts grow, strangely, I feel that the usefulness of the network decreases. LinkedIn has become a chore, whereas once, I was excited to see LinkedIn invites. I am going to stop accepting invitations until I clear out my inbox.
Twitter - I follow anyone who looks interesting. The more the merrier. I don't care who follows me. I tweet because I like to write, because I work from home, because someone needs to hear my innermost thoughts about Project Runway. I read other people's tweets because I like to laugh, because people are infinitely fascinating, because procrastination is an art, because my brain was made for hypertext (I can't help it -- I have to follow links. There is a new term for this -- hypertasking.)
Facebook -- I am reserving Facebook for personal contacts -- people I know, have talked to, shared a cup of coffee with. I love knowing what my friends are doing. Recently I connected with a bunch of folks I worked with in the mid-80s. I love those guys! I love knowing when new babies arrive, who is in a new relationship, and who supports what political party. It's a whole new level of intimacy. So, for now, if I don't know you, I won't Facebook you.
Ning, and other targeted networks. I belong to a few of these. And mainly, they make me feel guilty because I am not an active participant. I don't contribute much and I only read them occasionally. Peopleshark takes up much of my free time, and I am happy when other sites link to Peopleshark or subscribe to its posts to include as content. But I have always been a joiner, so if you send me an invite for one of these groups, I will likely accept, but don't expect much.
OPB - Other People's Blogs. I read a lot of blogs. They are invaluable for staying on top of everything new, interesting and compelling that is happening in the world (and in recruiting). I subscribe to about two dozen via RSS feeds, which I catalog on separate tab of my MyYahoo page. I skim through the posts when I have down time, like this guy.
Conferences -- this is the Old G of social media. Remember when you had to physically leave the office, go to a hotel meeting room, eat a bland chicken dish to meet other professionals in your field? Being old school, I still like this way of meeting people. Over the years, the number of engaging, interesting, informed speakers on the topic of recruiting has multiplied, so it's rare that I don't learn something. Moreover, these event give me opportunity to connect with rock stars of the profession, or folks I know only virtually, and to meet new people.
Warning! The curious practice of exchanging business cards is still alive. Like, I was at a conference and I met this recruiting dude, and he was like, do you have a card, and I was all like, why? Didn't I just tell you my Twitter handle? Then he tried to hand me his card and I was like, what am I going to do with this, except line the bottom of my purse? If I want to find you, I will just do a search for cluelessrecruitingdude.com, OK?
You will find me at Career Crossroad Colloquiums, Seattle Staffing Management Association meetings, ERE (fall and spring!), The National SMA conference, The Silicon Valley Recruiting Leadership Forum and any event where the rubber chicken is lukewarm and the door prizes go to folks with business cards. Sometimes I make it to the Kennedy Conference (it's in Vegas!) and next year, I promise to make it to Sourcecon. In-person networking is the best!
Email newsletters -- I loved to get mail as a child. I would sign up on any list to get mail. The arrival of the mail was a daily high point for me. More than once, my mother had to explain why sending in the postage-paid magazine subscription cards was unethical. So this carries over into adulthood and I get probably 30-50 e-mail newsletters a week. Most of the time I delete them, but a few are invaluable and I stop to skim them in the morning. I include these as part of social networking routine because they often lead me to new people or ideas. I think I spend some time next week evaluating and eliminating unnecessary newsletters.
So that's my bailout plan. I'll let you know when my network exceeds 700 billion.