Connect with me.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room, the underside of social media. The connection factor.
How and who are you really connected to?
In days past “networking” meant getting business cards, going to conferences, or volunteering. To do that you had to see the people you were networking with. To do that you had to choose who to spend time with, and who to ignore.
The rules were pretty clear.
Your smart phone was a Rolodex (Google it).
Today you can reach out through multiple media and connect globally. Don't get me wrong, the old days weren't all that: I don't wax nostalgic.
But I ask again: how are you connected?
The other day a friend of mine (contact? peer? what do we call those we've never met but whom we interact with professionally via #SoMe?) said something like I'm sorry I've been missing [on line] but work has really gotten busy and I won't schedule tweets.
I can relate.
At virtually the same time I noticed the continued onslaught from the cast of characters in my network who never seem to sleep – so ubiquitous are their tweets and G+ updates.
And I contrasted the two extremes: people who focus in real time and don't mind the spaces in between and those who post so much that perhaps their message is lost.
Where's the happy medium?
That of course, is up to you.
We know there's a balance between maintaining a real life with the requisite downtime we all need alongside an on-line presence to the extent that we want to.
How you spend your time matters.
The people you interact with most – in person or over the phone (or Skype) – are without doubt the ones who are most important in your “network”. How you manage this group – who enters, who exits – is your call, but consciously or not you'll evolve to a core group of people you interact with routinely.
Take care of these people and be honest with them. They are your board of directors and they matter.
Your extended circle (to borrow from G+) are important but not paramount. Like high school crushes these people come and go dropping in and out of your work a day world. Yes, they matter too, but not to the extent Klout or Kred might suggest.
Spend only the time you need to with them.
Your friends and your family however are not your network or circles: they are your friends and family. Here's something I can tell you with absolute certainty: you can always spend more time with these people.
If your attempt to manage your #SoMe footprint has gotten to the point where your network and your circles are causing you to shortchange your friends and your family, stop right freaking now.
Center yourself. Life is relationship. Life is contact, exchange, interaction. Life is happy, messy, sad, surprising and yes challenging. But mostly, life is friends and family and time with both. Manage your social networks and your online presence any way you want, but be very clear on this: your virtual life is not your real life.
Don't forsake one for the other.