Every day I, and I'm sure many of you, receive requests to connect on the various social networks. I get a couple of requests a day, and it seems like more lately, from individuals on LinkedIn. I have a few people and/or organizations follow me on Twitter each week, though this has tailed off over the last year or so as I used to see a couple daily. This volume and frequency is about the same on Instagram, while I receive very few Facebook friend requests; maybe only a couple a month.
All of this got me thinking about the motivation of the people issuing these requests. Particularly in the case of LinkedIn, where many of the requests I receive are from people I've never met. I feel like LinkedIn and Facebook connections are similar as they are both one-to-one, human-to-human and much more personal connections. Twitter and Instagram are as well, but to me they feel somewhat different. Like a less intimate relationship is being formed. And I suppose when I think about it, this is the nature of these networks and the reason we join them. When I receive a request on LinkedIn, I will check the person's profile to see who else they are connected to who I may know, what their professional role is and try to figure out why they are asking to connect. Sometimes it is obvious they are looking to sell something or to get hired. Yes, I myself have followed people for this very reason, but only after I've met them at least once or have been introduced by a mutual friend or colleague. Other times, I see no identifiable connection and scratch my head on their motive. In both of these instances, I hit Ignore.
In the early days of social networking I was much less discerning and connected to whoever asked. I've since decided this accomplishes nothing other than the creation of noise, which there is already enough of online. On Twitter, I've spent a fair amount of time culling the list of people I follow for this very reason. I am much more cognizant of following those like-minded people or orgs who post relevant content from which I believe I will derive value, which roughly translates to some degree of knowledge or entertainment. And yes, I'm using the same criteria to determine who I follow here on 200WaD. I am hopeful I'm being followed mostly for the same reasons.