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A lot of very influential people are sounding off that it’s not the number of friends you have on social networks that matter, but rather the quality of the relationships. For instance, many people would rather have 100 close knit contacts on LinkedIn than 600 “lose contacts” or people who you might not even know. Facebook considers users with 5,000 friends (the max you can have) “whales.” Basically having a lot of friends on Facebook, contacts on LinkedIn or followers on Twitter is giving people a bad name. There was even a recent study done that compared the number of friends and wall posts you have on Facebook to being more or less narcissistic.
Number of friends
When it comes to the web, you are graded based solely on what is observable.
No one is going to research your entire network to see how close you might be with each individual. I’ve heard stories of people getting hired over others because of the number of contacts they have on LinkedIn. Spam friend requests aside, if you are friended by another person, you should accept it unless you are using that specific profile only to be connected to a private group of friends.
If someone doesn’t know you and sees your personal eBrand, they will make a judgment based on the number of friends you have. Your website viewer doesn’t know how deep your relationship is with your network. How could they? To me, this boils back down to social proof. If you have an RSS chicklet on your blog that says 50,000, it’s pretty safe to say that many people will subscribe to your blog based on that popularity. The mentality is “if 50,000 people have endorsed this blog, it must be good enough for me to read as well.”
Quality of each friend
As you grow your network, only a percentage will remain in your top group of friends. As humans, there is no possibly way to have deep intimate relationships with thousands of people. It is impossible, even with the power of social media. A lot of people think email lists and livestreaming video can get you closer to your audience and that’s true, BUT you still won’t be able to develop quality friendships that way.
On a more positive note, many people could be attracted to your topic, philosophies, looks and more. These are people who may friend you or try and be apart of your network. It is to your advantage to embrace these individuals and accept their requests.
People who look only to the quality of each friend, will lose this web 2.0 battle because numbers count too.
You need both volume and quality. You cannot substitute one for the other. To win the personal eBranding game, you must be hyper-connected, yet maintain relationships with 20% of your network that will provide you with 80% of the value you need (80/20 rule of networking).
If you are reading this right now and only have a few RSS subscribers, friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, it should drive you to become more social online and offline in order to maximize those numbers and befriend more individuals in the process.
People find people through people.
This means that the more connected you are, the better the chance that an opportunity will arrise.