A few days ago a fellow Heretic asked me if I could elaborate a bit on how to “properly” use LinkedIn, Facebook or any other social network for business networking. When to connect to someone, on which network and at which point in the relationship?
Here’s the answer I gave:
Those are excellent questions — and, I believe, highly contextual. For example: Personally I treat Facebook the same way I treat Twitter — it’s my public persona. Nothing I share on Facebook I wouldn’t be comfortable saying in public. Thus I actually encourage people to connect with me there — “friends” on Facebook are not necessarily my “friends in real life” but more like followers on Twitter. And I tend to share a bunch of stuff on Facebook — so it’s a nice way to see what I’m up to. I know that this is somewhat unique and a lot of people use Facebook for truly personal information sharing — in which case you obviously want to apply a different strategy.
As for LinkedIn: I connect with people I met and talked to — if there is a good chance that they remember me, it’s fine to connect to them on LinkedIn (at least that’s my take). For people who connect with me — I do the same: If I know you or you have a good story why you want to connect I accept your request. Again — your mileage may vary as different people treat this differently.
If this is something you are interested in — read Reid Hoffman’s book “The Start-Up of You”. It talks at length about the finer points of networking on LinkedIn (which can easily be applied to other networks as well).