Google + and Redefining Friendship.

July 13, 2011

If you have ever read my blog or heard me speak, you probably already know that I am very much in favor of using social network to develop personal relationships with business contacts. I believe in the human factor. I believe in letting clients know that I just baked cookies and then sharing the recipe with them, I believe in discussing diet tips with prospects and I believe in chatting about my latest shopping trip with referral sources. I believe in using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to build trust and friendships with people who I may do business with.

I understand that not everyone feels comfortable sharing personal information with strangers. They don’t want to share their kid’s photos, their vacation plans or their moods with people who they do business with.  I respect people with this philosophy. To those people I say: if you don’t want your clients, boss, prospects, co-workers or your grandmother to know something, don’t put it on the internet – anywhere.  That said, for anyone who is in a role that involves business development, there is tremendous value in getting to know the person who you are doing business with.  I have so many stories of people who I met through social media who have become both friends and business connections.  We may chat about baking one minute and event engagement strategies the next. We might vent about our struggles to find the perfect pair of jeans while discussing our favorite webinar platform.

Bottom line? I love the ability to blur the lines.

So now I wonder if Google + is threatening to change this.  Google + which was introduced as Google’s social networking platform two weeks ago and is still in beta mode, works on the concept of “circles.”  When you create an account you assign contacts into circles such as friends, family, acquaintances or user-defined circles. In order to share information you have to select the circle that you want to share with or you can simply share with the public.

For some people, this segmentation is a relief. They no longer need to worry about over-sharing family information with casual friends or boring their business contacts with personal stories.  I have read a number of Facebook posts saying that people were removing friends from Facebook and inviting them to interact on Google +.  This makes me sad.

I see the value in Google +, although I think that it needs time to prove itself to the masses. I know all the social media geeks are on it, but I want to see “regular” people embrace it. But, this post isn’t really about Facebook vs. Google + vs. Twitter.  It’s about the way that we communicate and the wonderful gift that social tools have given us.

I know that people will disagree with me. People will embrace the division of church and state. They will feel that they have their privacy back.

If I have friended you on Facebook, it’s because I like you. It’s because I care about what’s happening in your world. I want to read that you just ran a marathon, that your sister is getting married and that you just wrote an insightful blog post about underwater basket weaving. And when I read that you are unfriending people, I worry that I might be one of them because for me, knowing who people are helps me appreciate them personally and professionally.

Call me crazy, but I don’t want Google + to redefine friendship. I’m happy just the way it is.