Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Many Facebook or LinkedIn Friends Do You Really Need?

Haydn Shaughnessy


Anybody who has spent more than a minute sweating over their online social networks needs an answer to this question. In fact when I began thinking about it I came across some pretty sad literature of young people shamed by their lack ofFacebook friends.
Friends are important but I was thinking more about professional friends, colleagues, contacts. And asking myself: Is the emphasis on growing our network of connections blinding us to the value that people can bring to our careers?
If you are in a profession that requires distribution (journalism, marketing, sales) then the more contacts the merrier. When I look at my 800+ LinkedIn connections though, I start to feel uneasy. What is this thing called connections? The best definition I can come up with is contingency list – in case they might be useful.
A couple of years back I gave up my smartphone so that I could become more focused. This year I want to focus my list of connections down to those that matter, the ones I can help and who can help me, people who are good at paying forward and who have some wisdom to impart.
I got talking about these issues last week with Jason Womack who provides companies and individuals with advice on productivity improvement and is theauthor of Your Best Just Got Better.
Jason contends that, yes you really do need friends and they really should be influencers, so some of the concepts of online social media are useful for how we see our broader professional circle. But they should be your personal influencers. And we need to be quite clear about their role. Your social network is there to help you to make good decisions.

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