Keeping it Real

Keeping it Real

How do you trust the people in your social media circles?

I’m always me on social media. No anonymous handles. Silly, cute, crazy profile names aren’t my style. As a businessperson, I use my real name and identity on all platforms, and most of the people I follow do, too. For me, it’s a matter of transparency, authenticity and verifiability. That’s important because I want people to be able to trust who I am—and I want to be able to trust them, too.

Keeping my LinkedIn network authentic as it gets bigger is a challenge. Every connection in a business context is an implied endorsement. It’s like having your private Rolodex go public, with your reputation attached. The great opportunity of social media is being able to connect with people in far-flung places who are well outside of my usual network of connections. And that’s also the danger. 

So how do I keep my growing network of first-order connections real? I’ve already talked about my preference for quality over quantity (unless you’re in a business like recruiting). People in my network are there because they are:

  1. People I know and respect firsthand 
  2. Public figures I admire 
  3. People I know of through a trusted mutual connection who’s vouched for them 

Twitter is a different beast altogether. For me, following or being followed on Twitter doesn’t imply endorsement. It’s more a gathering place for shared interests than a business-focused platform. Still, my watchword is quality over quantity. Some people get obsessed with how many followers they have, but that number doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of your network.

And Facebook? That’s the easy one. Friends and family, all the way. 

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How do you evaluate a connection request from someone you're only connected to indirectly? If you have accepted one of these requests, what's been the best/worst experience you've had?

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About the Social Media for the Reluctant series:

People assume that because I’m a marketer, I’m a natural at social media. Spoiler alert: I’m not — and I know I’m not the only one. Over the last decade, we’ve seen social media become an important way for businesspeople to raise their profile, promote their skills and share their thought leadership. Establishing this personal brand is part business and part personality — and the line between can get blurry.

But the skills that make for successful face-to-face connections don’t always translate to LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or other social feeds. This series is for anyone who, like me, is sometimes a reluctant social media user.

Bonnie Nijst
Written by Bonnie Nijst

Bonnie Nijst has been a wire service bureau manager, and VP of sales for both a publicly traded broadcast communications company and an Internet startup. She has also served on boards for organizations focused on economic opportunity, diversity, public health and civic engagement. She is president and CEO at FIDGET. Email Bonnie directly at or call her at 323.658.8000.