This is the era of “friending” through online social networks. Some people have already done so much friending that they’re fed up. Their online social networks are full up, thank you.
Some people are just climbing in, and are busy forging new contacts. I’m very puzzled by those who seem to try to connect promiscuously or randomly, with no feel for what’s going on in the space (and also no obvious role as a spammer or overzealous commercial come-on).
For example, I just got (yet another) bare Facebook friend request from someone with whom I have only one weak connection. I sent him this Facebook message:
I don’t think we know one another, and I’m wondering how you expect people to want to “friend” you online. Your picture is fuzzy and distant. Your public profile shows pretty much nothing. And your friend request on Facebook has no personal message. No curiosity, no generosity, no friendship.
This is a social medium. I have a feeling you’re very interesting, but no incentive to connect with you beyond my tiny positive instinct.
When people put a little effort into the “friending” gesture, I often connect with them. Calling out a shared interest, performing even a small act of bravery or generosity, asking a relevant question — all these things build immediate ties.
For people with open, descriptive profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, public Twitter feeds and other kinds of information visible in the world, their door is pretty much open. But it’s polite to knock, or to inquire within, or to leave a virtual gift on the step outside.