How Much is Too Much?
April 27, 2011 | The Whetstone Group

I was surprised to learn that a friend of mine had recently changed jobs. He, in turn, was surprised that I hadn’t heard.

“I posted it on LinkedIn yesterday.”

And, indeed, when I looked back through THREE PAGES of older posts I finally saw the indication that he had changed positions. I also checked the digest of my Linked in network activity; it was listed as one of about eight items at the very bottom of a page I had to scroll, scroll, scroll down to find. Past all the updates of the great business books people are reading, past the twitter feeds, past the same blog link posted by three different people at the same company.

As I started thinking about it, I wondered how much information is too much information. What is the right frequency of contributing information in a medium that moves at the speed of light? I had missed something really important, something I really would like to have seen, because it was displaced by so many other pieces of information.

Let me just state that I don’t have a huge network of people. I think I just recently topped 100 connections, and even that seems like too many. How can I possibly keep track of all that information?

There are tools to help manage all the information posted, tweeted, re-tweeted, whose updates you see, whose you don’t. But if I use these settings to hide everything from certain connections, I have to ask myself, why are we connected in the first place?

If I could make one plea to the users of online communication tools, it would be this: Please don’t post for the sake of posting. I call these random acts of posting, and if you are doing it you risk becoming such a part of the landscape that even people you know will stop paying attention to you. You don’t have to share information about your reading list, travel plans, and daily routine just to stay top of mind. The more you do this, the more likely I am to tune you out.

Conversely, there are certain people to whom I ALWAYS pay attention (assuming I see them amid all the junk) because they post so infrequently that if they are making an effort I know it is important. If you have made social media part of your personal business development activity you want to be one of these people. What is the right frequency? I say a couple times a week.

Something else I learned–if you have important information you want people who are professionally important to you to see, make the effort to contact them directly. Send a quick email. Make a short phone call. Mail a note. But don’t assume the world is paying attention to you online 24/7.