Beware of social networking overload

There’s a great scene from “The Brady Bunch” when Marcia — just turned high school freshman — is nervous about fitting in and making friends so she signs up for every club listed on the school bulletin board.

This is sort of what I see happening with many of you and all the social networking sites out there.

I’ve been getting questions from readers, colleagues and friends about the social networking explosion in cyberspace . It seems like there’s a new site popping up every day, and no one wants to be left out of the latest and greatest group. The choices are endless, everything from Black Planet, a site for African Americans, to Xing.com, a site for professionals with an international flair.

But with all the choices comes a digital daze.

Here’s what people have been asking me lately: “Is it enough just to be on LinkedIn and Facebook?” “I just got an invite from a friend who’s on Plaxo. What is it and should I join?” “Will I dilute my networking effectiveness if I’m on MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter?”

Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!

You can’t be in every club. It’s just not humanly possible.

I know, there’s a hint of desperation in the air because of the tough economy, and everyone wants to have lots of connections just in case layoffs are looming.

But beware. You might end up with social networking overload.

Enhancing your brand
Trust me. In researching this column, I signed up for as many of the networks out there as I could and what did I get? A headache.

Suddenly my e-mail inbox was flooded with friends accepting my invites for Plaxo, Twitter, etc., and I realized there was no way I was going to have time to do any of these sites justice. Especially since I’m already a member of LinkedIn and Facebook, and I barely have time to keep those up-to-date.

So what’s the best strategy?

“There are two purposes to social networks,” says Jason Alba, author of “I’m On Facebook, Now What?” and “I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?” “One is for networking, and the other is to enhance your brand.”

Neither will happen overnight, he says, so you should take time to figure out your best networking options.

First, you need to be part of at least one of these networks.

Let’s face it, these sites have helped many workers with their careers. I hear great stories all the time about people being recommended by their connections and ending up with dream jobs.

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