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Monday, November 03, 2008

LinkedIn Facebook Twitter - Different Connection Style

As a result of my recent change in my Approach to LinkedIn Connections, I've actually met quite a few people who read my blog, but I don't believe had ever commented. They were comfortable connecting with me via LinkedIn and since it offers mutual value it was worth the effort. It truly does feel like a (virtual) networking event.

Interestingly, one of the people who connected to me suggested we might want to do the same on Facebook and Twitter. This really got me thinking. I described my approach to LinkedIn only having recently changed where I view my connections now as really being more of a combination of:
  • PANs = Potentially Active Network
  • CANs = Currently Active Network
  • FANs = Formerly Active Network
I used to think of LinkedIn (and LinkedIn themselves suggest this is how to think of it) as containing only people who I have a deeper relationship with (CANs and FANs). However, for some of my primary uses Finding Expertise via LinkedIn and LinkedIn Answers to Get Help, it makes more sense to connect to people who it will be good to be connected with in the future (PANs).

However, this is not really the case with the way I use Facebook and Twitter. Both of these tools are much more conversational tools for me.

In Twitter, I have people that I follow in order to listen into their conversation. If you try to listen to too many, or if you listen to people who you don't really have a relationship with, you will experience what I describe in Twitter Mass Follow - Nevermind - basically it feels like noise.

In Facebook, it's much the same. I have my friends who I want to get together with, see what they are doing, have conversations with.

Both Twitter and Facebook really are my CANs and FANs. In some ways, the goal on both is to stay more closely connected with FANs to keep the relationship alive. Something I must say that I'm not good at. I can think of a bunch of folks who I really like, get along really well with and who I won't talk to unless something unusual happens. It's nice when we can get a bit of that ongoing conversation via Facebook or Twitter.

Yes, I could theoretically open up to a much larger network and somewhat ignore the noise. This would get the advantage of being able to broadcast. But, it's really not the way I use these tools today.

Now, it took me 2-3 years to change my thinking about LinkedIn. So, with all fairness, it could be that I've not evolved my thinking about Twitter and Facebook.

When I step back and see the message, I'm sending, I'm a bit worried:
If we are connecting on LinkedIn based on a very loose relationship, maybe we'll have more conversations and get to the point where it makes sense to connect on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Does that sound bad?


Anonymous said...

Hi, Tony -- No that doesn't sound bad. It sounds logical. One cannot really open the floodgates of information flow via all available social networking tools and hope to be productive. It appears you have determined how you will use each of these tools in a manner that is most productive for you. That is not only wise but also imitable. Thank you.

Ethan said...

Tony- As one of the people who connected with you over LinkedIn, but have never posted on the blog, let me say that I don't think that's a bad message. I used LinkedIn during my job search to network with people I had never met. That classifyes as PAN, right?

I was surprised how willing professionals were willing to correspond over LinkedIn, often giving me their phone numbers to have more extended conversations.

As an avid user of Facebook, I think a lot of users are wary to correspond with or friend people they have never met. My understanding and experience with Facebook is that we use it almost like an advanced contact management system, where we can keep track of what our friends are up to on a more personal level.

Anonymous said...

I obviously take the exact opposite approach to you Tony. I pretty much add any one to my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account. Exceptions are people who are obviously spammers.

Developing really deep relationships is hard when you live in the second most isolated city in the World. What I've found from my approach is amazement at the people who you do end up making deeper connections with and who end up providing you help.

Joitske said...

Funny, I use twitter for PAN more.. it's easier to see who are interesting persons when you connect on twitter and know what they are doing/are talking about

Tony Karrer said...

I appreciate the input on this.

Sue - your use of Twitter somewhat amazes me.

Joitske - I somewhat get that you could listen to someone for a while on Twitter and figure out if they are going to be interesting. This would take thinking of people much like blog subscriptions where you filter over time. Or being able to filter the noise.

For people who I don't know who are not having a conversation with me, but with others, I have not been able to listen to that stream amongst all of the others and feel I get to know them. Every once in a while a nugget will go by and that sparks something. So, I'm wondering if you are more sampling the stream than listening real-time? Also, I wonder if searching/filtering might be better for doing that?

And I'm pretty sure that's not what most people think about when they think of these things. David and Ethan are more in line with the norm.

Of course, my inability to filter conversation is true when I participate in threaded discussions as well. I have to see the same poster a bunch of times to begin to have a sense of the person. Otherwise, it feels like noise. Twitter even more so when so much of the conversation is personal stuff.

I think there's a skill I'm missing to be capable to handle large volumes of FB/Twitter streams and turn that into understanding and relationships.

Eric Wilbanks said...

For those of your readers who may not be involved in the Work Literacy "event" on Ning, here's my comments from week one concerning Facebook:

"I have a very active Facebook account (daily activity). However, I have noticed with both Facebook and MySpace that there are basically two types of users: (1) Connectors--Those who use Facebook to make new connections, and (2) Re-connectors--those who use Facebook to augment existing connections. Obviously, this isn't either/or, but I've found it to be a fairly accurate assessment of intent. I'm a re-connector. I feel weird answering a Friend request for folks I've never met or interacted with in any other forum or setting, physical or virtual. That's one reason I like Facebook better than MySpace: I can have those I'm friends with separate from those I'm fans of. And I never make friend requests to people I've yet to interact with at some level. Is that weird of me? And since I'm being honest, I am a bit put off by 'friend collectors,' those whom I consider to be the most dis-ingenuous of all Connectors. I don't want to be just another virtual head on someone's Facebook wall. Only half-jokingly, I have decided to call this 'Predatory Friending,' in honor of our recent socio-economic bailout crisis." :-)

Anonymous said...

Tony, it doesn't sound bad.

I've been trying to make my facebook account more business orientated but find that once you're out there on the ether that long lost friends want to connect and quite frankly its nice to know about what they are doing.

BUT and this is a big BUT it means that personal information is then written on my wall or photos shared of me that I may not want shared with my business network...

As for Twitter I am enjoying reading the thoughts of people and see it as a way to gather around the watercooler from my home office and network with like minded folks and chatter away.

Tracy Parish said...

I like what David Fair comment on, you can really only open yourself to so many of these tools. Otherwise you spend your entire day just reading what others are doing and trying to stay connected with all of them in one format or another. Finding (I'm finding) 3 or 4 tools, depending on who I'm connecting with, seems to be enough to keep up with all that is going on with my connections. At least it keeps me more than busy.

Figuring out what these tools are and the best way for each of us to use them (personally) is the challenging part.

I also relate with Emma King's comment that I can't really seen the benefit yet of mixing Facebook personal with Facebook business. From what I see for now the two mostly stay separate. Facebook seems to be a personal tool only. I know that many of our HR staff will look through FB accounts (if not private) to "research" new hires. To see if they are of desirable quality. I can only assume that they are only judging the candidates pages, but what if they look beyond that to friends pages and see something they don't like an acquaintance doing.

I'm not yet convinced of Facebook as a business tool other than creating gathering areas, or event groups.

Rob Kennedy said...

Yes, my preference is to use Facebook as low level social networking tool, mostly reconnecting with high school, college acquaintances, etc. LinkedIn, I think of as my more professional network since my resume/background is posted there. I will more easily accept a casual connection on LinkedIn because of the potential networking possibilities it provides. However, on Facebook, I am a LOT more selective and do not accept friends unless I recognize the name. If I don't recognize the name immediately, there had better be a picture for me to see :-), and not a mini-cellphone shot either.

Anonymous said...

Tony, appreciated your blog and a thank you goes to Ranelle Maltas who highlighted this on plaxo!

I just referenced this on a LinkedIn answer that touched on this regarding "what is an open networker"

Also we publish a monthly newsletter and the context of this year has been Working With People and last month's was professional / social networking. (see

My simple litmus test is, who do I let see family pictures? Facebook contacts (300+ - yes), LinkedIn (2.5k) no unless I have some virtual or in person connection. Now on either site, or plaxo, twitter, etc... I'm cognizant that anything I post needs to be appropriate for multiple and unintended readers.

Anonymous said...

I think when it comes to facebook, you either use it solely for 'business' connections or social ones. A mixture of both uses could prove problematic. People argue that you can keep your profile safe by 'untagging' photos & deleting wall posts etc - But is this possible 24/7? Something is bound to slip through the net....

As for Twitter, I'm yet to get my head completely 'round it. But I find it hard to keep up with conversations, and I'm only following 10 people!

Tony Karrer said...

I'm hearing a lot of people who have the same reaction on FB and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, my separation of business and personal is not very clear. Which makes things a little messy on FB and Twitter.

So, I'm somewhat stuck with them being somewhere in the middle. Not completely personal, but also not that professional either. Sounds like a mess as I write it.