Friends VS Connections

th6In the world of social media, we have learned that the word used to describe other people on Facebook is called a “Friend” and the word we use to describe other people in LinkedIn is called a “Connection”.  Many times the same people are included in both of our profiles, but they mean different things.

I’ve always defined a friend as someone that will help you when you need support.  It could be emotional, financial or moral support that you need and a friend is someone willing to help you.  On the flip side, a connection is an arm’s length away from the closeness of a friend, but at the same time is still someone that is willing to help you.  It may mean they can facilitate a meeting with someone they know and you would like to meet.  It may mean that they could provide information about someone or a company and they open themselves up to share.

  • Facebook seems to be an environment that is open to any and all topics, and it allows people to get to know things about you that friends naturally learn about each other.
  • LinkedIn was set up as a professional social environment, with a focus on business, jobs, connections to people and opportunities.  It sometimes drifts into politics, cartoons and other dribble, but the community seems to police it well.

While Facebook users seem to brag about all the “friends” they have, I wonder how many of the names actually perform the role of a friend?  At the same time within LinkedIn some people seem to seek out and connect with every warm body they can find, and I simply don’t understand the reason other than it is a feeling of having a following.

While I think about every request to connect in LinkedIn before accepting, I also use the “disconnect” button when I feel this person is no longer a fit for one of the following reasons:

  1. They cannot return phone calls or emails
  2. They are unwilling to help me connect to other people
  3. They start using LinkedIn as an extension of Facebook
  4. I realize I don’t agree with their positions, opinions and posted content
  5. But the biggest reason I disconnect a LinkedIn contact is when I have thought them to also be a friend, but learn they are not.  In fact they do little to nothing to help my business or career.  They no longer support me, and yet have not disconnected themselves.  So I do it for them.

While a “Connection” comes with a degree of responsibility, a “Friend” is expected to give a lot more to the relationship.  When we are honest with ourselves, we have a lot more connections than we have friends.  At least that is what I have learned.