Do you struggle with the question of how to decide whether to connect on social media?
Many of my clients pose this question to me.
The answer, as is often the case, is “it depends.” It depends on how you use the site, your natural networking style, your line of work, your gut instincts, and more.
Whether you are doing the reaching out or responding to a connection request, here are some things to consider.
How You Use a Social Site
- Let’s say you mainly use the social site for personal matters. Then it probably makes sense to keep your connections limited to people you know well or want to know better.
- On sites like Instagram or Twitter, there are settings designed to keep your account private. Choosing those options keeps random people from finding your account and following it.
- Facebook has a setting that restricts who can send friend requests for the same reason.
- Both Facebook and LinkedIn have settings that allow you to restrict who sees your connections.
- If, however, you use a site for business purposes, you will likely want to connect with more people. Once I started my business, I broadened the range of people I connected with on Facebook. For example, I accepted Facebook friend requests from people who were acquaintances of mine through networking groups.
Your Natural Networking Style
- Extroverts typically have a lot of friends in “real life.” So, if you’re an extrovert, your online experience may include a high number of connections.
- If you are introvert by nature, you may extend that style to your personal social media sites. That said, on a business site like LinkedIn, you want to include more connections who are acquaintances.
- For some people, it’s more comfortable to communicate online than in person. So, these people may have more connections on social sites than in their real lives.
Your Line of Work
- Let’s say your profession involves confidentiality and sensitive information. Then it is wise to be very selective about your connections. Examples can include attorneys, social workers, accountants, therapists, etc.
- Professional ethics may preclude you from connecting with your clients on your personal sites.
- Teachers and others working with minors are likely to be very circumspect around their use of social media. However, once your students reach adulthood and finish their schooling, you may opt to connect with them.
Your Gut Instinct About the Person
- If any “red flags” come up as you look at a connection request, follow your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about this person, don’t accept the invite.
- Some people, may want block or even report persistent attempts at connection through the site. Just use your best judgment.
- The same goes for existing connections – you can always remove the connection if you feel it’s the best thing for you.
- Please note that the person the social site doesn’t notify the person you have declined as a connection. Nor does the site notify them if you remove them as a connection, block them or report them.
What About You?
Which of these considerations applies the most as you make decisions about connecting with people on social sites? What other criteria do you use?
Joyce Feustel helps people, especially those age 45 and up, become more effective using social media, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter. She provides social media tutoring and training to business owners, business development professionals, authors, speakers, coaches, business consultants, job seekers, and many others. Find her at www.boomerssocialmediatutor.com.