From Jennifer: Today is day 2 of our guest article series while I’m on vacation. Today I’m thrilled to share with you the insights of Mark Bosworth, Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for SwissJust. Mark and I go back a ways in the industry, and I love sharing technology ideas with him for the industry. Today he shares with us his insights on friend-ing strategies when using your social networks for business. Enjoy!
Friends, Friends, Friends
If you’re like me, you have a constant stream of people wanting to connect to you or follow you on Facebook, LinkedIn or even Twitter. Personally, I don’t think this has anything to do with my magnetic personality since people follow me on Twitter and I have not opened my Twitter account in over a year. I think that as more and more people start to use these networking sites, there is an effort to connect deeper into your affiliations.
So for example, at one point in time I would only be connected to people at an ex-employer that I worked with or was good friends with. Now I’m getting friend requests from people who I was only peripherally associated with and people I barely remember.
Additionally, there are more and more people who are using networking as a sales vehicle. I get LinkedIn requests from software vendors and business consultants all the time and I don’t really know these people.
So what is a person to do with all these request?
I think there is something fundamentally human in wanting to connect with other people. When someone wants to be my friend, I certainly want to be their friend too! I honestly feel a little guilty when I reject a request for a friendship or a connection.
However, I vividly remember once trying to log on to Facebook from a computer at a friend’s house. Because it was a new computer for my Facebook account, I had to go through a security routine to prove that I was me. The security routine was being able to accurately identify the profile pictures of the people I was friends with. I got through the test… but it got me to thinking how many of the 332 people I was “friends” with on Facebook could be recognized if I saw them at the local grocery store.
I do think that the term “friends” is a little mis-leading. We are actually making connections. And there are all sorts of various connections you can have that are way short of friends.
So how do we manage all of this? I don’t have a perfect answer, but I’ve observed a number of coping strategies that people use:
- Divided: Although it is strictly against Facebook policy, I know of many people who keep two Facebook accounts. On one account they keep their social friends and on another they keep their business associates. The “friends” account is very exclusive and the “business” account is open for everyone.
- Open to Everyone: Some people become friends with anyone who wants to connect to them. They have thousands of people on their lists and are totally “ok” with this. They don’t tend to post too many personal details.
- Case by Case: This is my strategy. As each person comes through I try to think if this is someone I want to stay in touch with. Would I recognize this person if I met them?
At the end of the day, I do connect with probably 80% of the people who reach out to me for connections. The rational part of me wishes I had a better strategy for deciding how to build my networks, but there is only so much time to think about these types of things.
How do you decide who to connect with?
R. Mark Bosworth is a 20-year veteran of the Direct Selling Industry. He has been involved with introduction of technological changes to a number of large Direct Sales companies. He is currently Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for SwissJust in Miami, FL.