Now that I have just about every popular social network profile under the sun, I wanted to share an observation: Having a social network is not just a popularity contest.
Sure, the younger you are, the more you may want to be liked and show-off your popularity – that’s part of the reason why MySpace has become so popular. Once you get out into the real world (boy do I sound like my parents), you’ll realize that life is not always about “he who has the most friends wins.”
Take a look at where popularity works and where it doesn’t.
Twitter – there’s no harm in letting countless numbers follow your Tweets, but do you really need to follow the micro-updates of people you don’t know?
Facebook – with Facebook you can decide who sees your full profile and who gets the limited version. This is great for acquiring many followers while not sharing whether you like to wear boxers or briefs.
LinkedIn – I’m very careful with who I let join my LinkedIn network. My LinkedIn network consists of people I have met at least a few times, exchanged numerous emails with, or worked with in some capacity. If I don’t know you, I won’t accept your invitation, because at some point I may be asked what I think of you – it’s important for me to be able to know everyone in my network. Want to connect with me on LinkedIn? Connect with me in the real (or cyber) world first.
Remember, your social network participation reflects on your reputation. You may be careful about what you post to your online profile, but what your friends do is also reflected on you. If a potential employer sees that a few of your Facebook friends like to ask “how much pot did you smoke over the weekend?” they may conclude you’re of the same caliber.
Just as with the real world, you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends – that also goes for your social networking friends.