Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Having a Lot of Facebook Friends is Good

Some people scoff at those who have too many friends on Facebook. "They probably just friend a bunch of people they don't know to look popular," they say. While I'm not interested in having lots of 'friends' for that reason, I do find that Facebook can be incredibly valuable for networking. That's why I tend to have 400-500+ connections at any given time.

You know how when you used to go to a conference and you met someone you were interested in connecting with? The standard practice would have been to exchange business cards. I have no idea how often people would have corresponded before email, but before social media, email was the main choice. I remember emailing people after some conferences in my early undergrad years. We'd exchange one -- maximum two -- emails and then forget about each other.

One day in early 2007, someone I met at a conference finally convinced me to join Facebook. I had been avoiding it because the concept seemed dumb at the time (shows how much I knew), but finally relented so I could keep in touch with this person and a few other conference attendees.

This kind of networking is still probably one of my most valuable reasons to have Facebook to this day. Now if I want to keep in touch with someone, I find them on Facebook instead of thinking I'll actually email them more than the first time. I can have a passive connection with them where neither of us have to put any extra work into keeping in touch, but we don't forget about each other. Plus, if I see an update from one of these people that I think I can help out with, I jump on the opportunity. Most do the same for me. I've definitely seen many of them again thanks to this!

(Note: This goes for Twitter or any other social network that you and the other person you are connecting with use often. Take advantage of the places you hang out anyway!)


Kate said...

I tend to agree and still have a lot of 'passive' connections on my fb. However, it's a double-edged sword. I have added professional connections and been shocked when I find that their profiles are somewhat...less than professional. In such cases, I'd rather have not known this side of them. I have to admit being a bit more cautious these days about who I add for this reason.

Gail Carmichael said...

That's a very good point. I don't typically think of that because I always keep my online profile as professional as I can (no matter the site).

Kate said...

I'm the same way! So that's why I'm always so surprised when it happens.

I guess knowing the tools available such as the 'lists' and selective privacy features is more and more important these days!

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