There are 5 simple criteria I use for determining whether or not I will accept a friend request on Facebook, an follower on Twitter, or a connection on LinkedIN. I am sharing them here because accepting everyone isn’t a good policy, being discriminating is. Remember that ultimately these are people of a quality that you want to do business with, or hang out with personally. And since we really are the sum average of those we surround ourselves with, it makes sense to give extra care to those in our tribe.
Now, these aren’t hard and fast rules, but flexible guidelines. I can share that having recently hit the Facebook limit of 5K friends I am sorry I didn’t institute this care at the start as I’d have fewer friends but more that I truly got to know. Weeding through those I have to deselect those that I have nothing in common with and don’t want to know more about (yes, there are a few) is incredibly time consuming. So here are the 5 essentials:
- Show a smiling (yes I trust teeth) close up avatar (headshot). In focus (this is the age of digital do-overs, no excuses for those filtered shots, and make it the same on every network; congruency counts. Oh, and this needs to be current because one day we just might meet face to face and it would be disappointing and frustrating not to recognize you because you thought this was online dating (it isn’t) and use a picture 10 years old and 20 pounds lighter. (Just for the record, it isn’t acceptable in online dating either, but people do it all the time.)
- Make the invite personal on FB and LinkedIN. One out of every 30-50 invites I get is personal. That means that someone has taken an extra 20 seconds to send me a note about how they know me and why they want to connect. I’ll forgive a lot of sins for a personal note in an age it is so rare.
- Be active on the network you are inviting me into, I will check and you should to. I’m okay with you being new, but on Twitter, better have at least 10 tweets and not all ads, on FB regular posts and I want to see you are growing your friends.
- Your profile must be complete and visible. I think it is virtually hilarious when someone invites me to connect but their profile is private so I can’t see anything about them. If I don’t know anything about you, why on earth would I connect? (This isn’t online dating, some smoking hot picture isn’t enough.)
- A positive attitude goes a long way and let’s make this social, not intimate. I really don’t care what you ate for lunch. I’m not interested in long political rants or religious diatribes. I am interested in your talent, your genius, your expertise and finding out the difference you make to others. If you don’t make a difference, then we probably don’t need to talk.
Do I sound harsh? I hope not, but I am really tired of people wanting to be my “friend” for no reason at all. I regularly train wannabe connections on LinkedIN to add a friendly photo of themselves (not their pet, their kids or their house), and for goodness sakes tell me how I know you or why you want to connect. I want to serve and support your success, when you keep me in the dark, it makes me wonder what you want. On Twitter, I dump those that are inactive, I lose those unable to put a personal photo of themselves up, and I block spammers, and those who rant. These are my rules and they work for me, perhaps these will give you some incentive to create your own and guard your network just a bit more.