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Jean Russell

I just discovered Peoplebrowsr. It is primarily driven by your twitter network, but it shows your connections from twitter, flickr, seesmic, digg, linkedin +more. I think facebook is nearly there too (some bug to work out first). I can view people's updates/status, see the networks they are on or probable links to them, send messages, group people regardless of which network, tag people, comment on their people profiles. It is leap beyond tweetdeck as grouping is easier and it acts across networks.

It doesn't go so far as to let you respond to questions in groups on facebook or linkedIn. I got in early, but I think the soft release is imminent.

I too used to only connect with people I knew. And I was recently struggling with the growth of the network. I could no longer say something intelligent about everyone in my network. This makes weaving the network harder, but it has other benefits. I have had numerous surprise friendships and work relationships appear from the PANs. I relinquish control of introducing people, and assume that given my replies and content, people will see others they want to connect with.

And I do think managing all of these networks is about learning to relinquish control. Serve the good as best you can with what you have. You can't read everything. Prioritize replies and direct messages. Manage self-expectations and other-expectations. Flow and make space for synergy and synchronicity.

Ashley Messick

One line from the comment above stuck out to me as being of the utmost importance: "And I do think managing all of these networks is about learning to relinquish control." I find the networks that work best for me and put my time in there. I is tough in this day in age to not read articles about "How GREAT ______ is" and then immediately join without thought to if it is just great or if it is actually great for me. I think considering purpose is always important before diving into a new online tool.

This might be a bit confusing to explain but IMO is a reflection of my millenial mindset: the way I find it easiest to manage social networking for professional purposes and social networking for personal purposes is that there is little differentiation between the two. I feel comfortable using Facebook OR LinkedIn for professional relationships because I feel as if they both show the same me. I do not mind posting personal pictures or my personal blog in an arena where different "types" of friends will have access. Certainly this isn't for everyone necessarily but for me it has made it easier to feel comfortable with not being on a number of networks that each serve a specific "side" of me.

Maggie McGary

Mine is sort of tricky because of the "is it part of your job or optional?" thing. Yes, it is part of my job because my role at the association I work for is basically managing our online social networking efforts: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr--plus monitoring what's being said about us on blogs and on Twitter. Not to mention coordinating with other departments about how they might want to use social media, then

Then in my regular life I blog about social media and do all of the same stuff as above. So that's another whole round of Facebook groups, Twitter follwers and updates, blog posts, etc, etc. I participate in a bunch of topic-specific social networks as well--those are the ones that tip the scale for me. There is just no way I can keep up with all of them, and most don't have RSS feeds for comments, new posts, etc, so if I don't log in and check them, I'm totally out of the loop.

The hard part for me is constantly switching personnas--when I twitter for work there is a certain style I have to adhere to; likewise for any interaction I have on Facebook as a representative of the association. My personal style is totally different. It would be one thing if I worked for a smaller association and had a more personal relationship with members--then I would probably be fine with just presenting one online "face." But because the association is so large and I have no contact with members--and because we are still really tiptoeing through this social media stuff--it really has to be a lot more impersonal/formal than some say it should theoretically be.

So how do I cope? Spend a ton of time online and rely pretty heavily on Twitter as an aggregator of sorts. I follow people who are in my various social networks and usually only visit those networks when one of the members mentions something specific happening or links to a particular post or item. As for Facebook, my twitters posts feed into my status updates and I pretty much only check the actual page when I get an email telling me I have a message from someone, or have to approve someone to a group or confirm a friend request.

Now that I think about it, I have to say that Twitter plays a huge part in my social networking activities--ironic considering I pretty much thought it was useless a few months ago.

Nelson Layag

I've recently given people new to social networking this comparison of Facebook and LinkedIn.
Facebook is like a cocktail party - primarily social, but sometimes a way to make professional contacts. Linked-In is like a conference - it's pretty much professional, but of course you have some personal connections with some people.

Lisa Duhamel

Hi, Beth ~

My business involves the development of websites and infusing a social networking aspect into each site to create a more consistent flow in my client's web presence. If they don't yet have a social presence created, I help them get started, as well as provide ongoing assistance. From a business standpoint, Social Networking can be a very time consuming task if you really want to extend your reach online, which is what prompted me to offer the service to other business owners and organizations. Every day the list of social networks grows. To help alleviate any overwhelm that your readers may be experiencing, new tools, upgrades & applications by which to manage social networks efficiently are becoming more available. By the way, this is the first time I have visited your blog and I'm really glad I found you (through Google alerts). I look forward to reading more!

All the best,

Lisa Duhamel
www.virtuallyready.com

Mark Dykeman

Hi Beth and thanks for linking out to my Mashable.com article about social media friends.

Louis Gray also linked to that post in a recent post with another interesting look at social media friends/contacts which applies a bit more to personal life, but might still make for interesting reading for your readers: Be a Friend to Your Social Media Friends:

http://www.louisgray.com/live/2008/11/be-real-friend-to-your-social.html

Scott

As always, some great insight Beth.

@Nelson - I really like the simple comparison of cocktail party versus conference. It obviously depends on your intent and purpose in using Twitter, but for personal use, I think that's a really good analogy.

@Maggie - I hear ya! Working for a PR firm, it's not uncommon to wear four different hats throughout the day as I help guide clients down the right path with various social media strategies. It can be tough when you're not in the role of online community manager for a company or organization where you're able to bridge the professional/personal aspects of the job. I know sites like Plaxo and Friendfeed are trying to work toward providing that "lifestream" factor, but there are still gaps in the process.

Tony Karrer

Fantastic post Beth!

Surya Adi Sapoetra

vary nice explanation..

Surya

Sue Waters

All my interactions online are basically professional networking and I try to be the same consistent person across all networks. I've no issue adding anyone to any of my different networks except if they are obvious spammers.

Funnily enough because I use my social networks with interact with my online network the main people I'm not comfortable with adding to any network are family and f2f friends -- yet have no issue with my adult students. I manage my multi-memberships without going crazy by choosing the main ones I want to use but allowing people to connect with me through others that I'm less fussed with. For example, Facebook appeals to my students and is convenient for them to access me 24/7 but I don't spend much time there except for mail.

My tips - it's impossible to be every where and do everything. Focus on the social networks that you feel most comfortable with. Don't stress. Each of us has our own personal preference as to what works best.

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