Social Networking 101

July 19, 2008

Sometime last year I signed on to LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking site. There are essentially two approaches that one can take with LinkedIn. Some choose to limit their “connections” to trusted contacts that they know and would feel comfortable recommending to others. Others take a more aggressive approach, and seek to add any willing warm body with an email address to their network.

(Recovering) lawyer that I am, I could argue for either approach, but I chose the former route. As a result, all of my LinkedIn connections are people with whom I share some sort of relationship – largely professional, but some social as well. Admittedly, a few of these connections are rather tenuous – I cannot vouch fully for the work ethic and ability of all of my LinkedIn connections (although I can say with some degree of certainty that none are ax murderers). But, as one of the primary goals of most people participating in LinkedIn is to expand their network, and therefore increase their potential to be able to find an employee/expert/consultant/career opportunity, I think that’s OK. I have 150-some connections and an extended network of close to 500,000, and I’ve realized some business benefit from it, so mission accomplished.

Not so with Facebook, which I joined just a few days ago. I see Facebook as a purely social utility. If I don’t know someone well enough to think that they might have some interest in what I am up to at a given point in time (and I in what they are doing), I don’t see any point in connecting as a “friend” on Facebook.

Which has led to some interesting decisions. Who should I invite? I have little reservation about sending someone a LinkedIn connection invite, as I view it as a business decision. If I have some sort of relationship with a person, and believe that networking with them might potentially have some business value (either through them or through one of their connections), I’ll send them an invitation.

It’s not as easy with Facebook. I don’t know; it may be something as simple as the semantic difference between “connection” and “friend”. A business “connection” is just that, business. You don’t want to connect, fine, your loss. A social “friend”, however, is, well, a friend. I’ve told my oldest daughter to remember that when the day comes that a boy calls her on the phone and asks her for a date, she should keep in mind the fact that his finger may have hovered over the number pad for quite a while before he finally got up the gumption to make the call. Asking someone to be your “friend”, even in the context of something as contrived as Facebook, carries a measure of risk. After all, they could say “no”!

While I’ve only been on Facebook for a few days, and really haven’t put too much time into it, I’ve already faced Facebook rejection. I sent out an invitation, to a female acquaintance who is already on Facebook, and … nothing. I know that she received the invitation, because I got an unrelated email from her the day after I sent it. So, why didn’t she accept? Was my invitation inappropriate? Did it make her uncomfortable? Does she think I’m a jerk? If it’s the latter reason, that’s OK – she should probably just take a number and get in line. I do hope, however, that it wasn’t because I made her feel uncomfortable.

Oh well. Such is the lot of a 40-something trying to adapt to the technology and social mores of a 20-something.

By the way, if you are reading this, know me, and think we should be connected on either LinkedIn or Facebook, shoot me an invite. I promise I won’t make you wonder why I didn’t respond….



July 17, 2008

I had every intention of posting something serious tonight – perhaps even “Law Practice Part IV”, in which I explain why I joined the ranks of “recovering” litigators, and have never (well, rarely) looked back.

Nah, not tonight. Instead, I offer this video for your entertainment and edification. Because “barbeque” is not a verb. It is not a grill. It is meat, prepared in a very special way. Preferably vinegar-based….

Back At It

July 13, 2008

I’m gradually returning to running. I had self-diagnosed a torn meniscus (a little internet knowledge can be a dangerous thing), but when I finally got in to see the orthopedist, he said he thinks it is just patellofemoral syndome, a/k/a “runner’s knee”. A competitive runner himself, he said “welcome to the club”.

So, armed with a prescription for pain meds and patellar strap, physical therapy referral, and follow-up appointment for 6 weeks hence, I’m cleared to run. After several easy 2-3 mile runs this week (I seem to be incapable of limiting it to 4 runs of 1 mile each, per the doc’s “Back to Running” schedule), I did close to 7 today.

So far, so good. Add 20 to it and I’ll be ready for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

Seven Months Later

July 7, 2008

Late last year I left the company that I’d been with for nearly a decade. It was largely a quality of life move. As I explained at the time, much about the job had changed and, most of the time at least, it was no longer an enjoyable place to be.

But it wasn’t just a quality of life move. I was a rat jumping off a ship that I thought was soon to sink. Now, just seven months later, the ship has indeed run aground, with yet another reorganization/ downsizing/rightsizing/workforce optimization/reduction in force/insert your favorite euphemism for “layoff” here. The ship hasn’t fully capsized yet, but it’s taking on water and the survivors are looking for the lifeboats.

The Friday afternoon email that announced the reorganization said, almost as an afterthought, that “[a]n unwanted but necessary outcome of this process was the elimination of a number of positions.” Among the casualties was my mentor, who had 20 years of service in the company and was the heart and soul of our division. I have no doubt that if I had stayed with the company, I too would be paying my mortgage with a severance package.

It’s a shame. It really was a great place to work for a number of years.