Written by Karen D. Swim
Years ago I met a woman named Lisa (not her real name) while doing my civic duty as a juror. After 14 days of being cooped up in a room with a group of people you either walk out friends or never want to see them again! Lisa and I seemed to get along fine. She was around my age and we were both single. We exchanged contact information and agreed to keep in touch.
We got together the following weekend for a movie. She called me later that night, and the next day, and the next day. Well you get the picture. She called a lot to moan and complain. Lisa was what my friends and I called an “energy vampire.”
I had a close group of girlfriends and I was accustomed to having a phone to my ear at least 18 hours per day, but this was not the same. Lisa kept inviting me to do things and I would beg off politely. I stopped returning phone calls yet she persisted.
Finally, I did something uncharacteristic, I was mean. I told Lisa that my quota for friends was filled, and I was no longer accepting new applicants. She tried to argue with me (I mean geez she really was tenacious) and our last conversation ended badly. I felt guilty but cleansed.
Social media networking has become a little like Lisa. I love connecting with other people but lately have found myself wanting to draw the line. I get stock LinkedIn invites from strangers or advertisements masked as an invite for things I neither want nor need. People leave self-promotional ads on my profile page and then spam me with invites to join everything from the Bombay cooking school network to support groups for people who don’t like the color green! And please let’s not discuss the creepy Facebook applications!
Now, I am not saying that I don’t want to connect with diverse people (diverse, not creepy) but try connecting with me where I already hang out. Let’s exchange pleasantries before you then shoot me invites to 20 other places to which I don’t belong. I love LinkedIn and it is one place where having a large network comes in handy. However, can you at least customize the invite beyond the stock invitation (yes you company of people who have been mandated by HR to befriend everyone on LinkedIn). Now, if I already know you I could care less about the stock invitation, but if you don’t know me at all how about a little bit of effort?
Social networking has been great for me personally and professionally. I love the Skype talks with Roland, and my Gtalk chats with Daniel Smith. I enjoy my twitter buds and blog comment buddies (ahem that would be all of you) . I can check out of Plurk for weeks and come back to insightful questions from Jane Chin and intense discussions on social media led by Her Royal Fierceness, Connie Reece or Mack Collier. Yet I am joining the legions of people who are beginning to re-think the concept of open networker. So be warned, if you send me an invite in a language I don’t understand or a picture of you in your underwear, I just may tell you that I’m all out of friend spots. Perhaps Lisa is available.
Are you an active participant in social media? Has your approach changed to how you add friends?