A year ago I presented at an Erfa Networking meeting. In the break, I had a discussions with some of the audience about their usage of LinkedIn. A woman in her mid fifties said she only had 25 contacts, and they were very well selected as someone she really trust doing business with. Her argument was that, since she worked as a professional board member (at the time I think she was part of 15-20 company boards) it was of out-most importance that she was never seen or connected with “the wrong guy”. She used words like “criminals” and “business screw-ups” as examples.
Fast forward to some weeks ago. At a party a friend of my wife comes up to me and asks “How do you know Joe Blogs from Company A? I can see you are connected on LinkedIn.” She had a sour face. I had to think. I didn’t recognize the name. I barely recognize the company Joe Blogs supposedly worked for. But after some time I did remember why I “knew” this person “Joe Blogs”. We had had a meeting some 3-4 years ago and not spoken since.
Looking around the social web I’ve noticed various ways to at least mitigate this challenge (potentially). For instance have a look at how US Air Force does it on Twitter:
“Following does not=endorsement”
“I follow the corporate social business guidelines. What I write is my own opinion and not necessarily my employers. And me following you, or you following me does not equal endorsement.”