With the onslaught of Social Networking opportunities some people seem to think common sense and manners don’t apply.
The reality is, Social Networks are like any other type of network. Most sane people wouldn’t walk up to someone at a business meeting, ask for their card and say, “Okay, now you are my friend and I am going to slam you with stupid phone calls, junk mail and other useless garbage.”
More likely, they would introduce themselves, find a point of commonality and take it from there.
So why is it that in virtually any social network available a lot of people send others invitations to join their network with nothing beyond the invitation? The more well known someone is, the more useless invitations they likely get.

In addition to the more well known social networks such as MySpace, Ryze, Facebook, Twitter, etc., there are those specific to industries and interests such as religious, medical, pets and just about anything else you might have an interest in. The list is endless.
Avoid the time suckers
As more social networks crop up there is more of a chance that they will become a huge time sucker and waster rather than the incredible networking tool they have the potential to be.
To get the most out of your SN time and efforts, here are some simple guidelines.
1. Quality is far better than quantity. Avoid sending blanket messages out to people. It is not a race to see how many in an hour you can add to your network. Again, at least not for most sane people.
The more of a connection people feel, the more likely they are to read your messages, be willing to pass on valuable information they receive from you to their colleagues and see the value of your information.
2. Determine who you want in your network. Who do you want to connect with and why? If you are clear on the who and why you will likely find it much easier to build your network.
On the flipside, before simply accepting someone’s invitation to join their network, take a moment to check out their profile to determine if they are someone you wouldn’t mind your colleagues seeing in your network.
Although that may sound snobbish, it’s not. It is common sense. Why would you want someone in your network who might have profanity on their profile, pictures that would make just about anyone blush and/or useless information that has no redeeming social value?
It’s not necessary to make friends with people  you don’t know. Simple as that.
3. Process of inviting. The fact is, there are some people who consider building their network only a numbers game. Chances are many people don’t remember from one day to the next who they invited to join their network. So ignoring their request is likely to go unnoticed on their end.
If you are doing the inviting, it is imperative that you give the other person a point of reference. Do you know each other from another online group? Do you have colleagues in common? Do you have common interests?
Don’t assume people will remember you if you corresponded days, weeks or months ago via an email or forum group. Make it easy for them to accept your invitation.
4. Develop your profile. Another aspect of social network etiquette is developing a useful profile. There’s a good chance your invitation will be ignored if there is nothing of value on your profile.  You will be well served to have at least one picture and some background information.
For those who are using Social Networks for professional reasons, put your resume/CV/bio on your profile. Give people something to go on. You can also list professional associations you are involved with, books you have authored, awards you have received, etc.
However, avoid making it look like you have having one big “brag fest.” Also, don’t give too much information away in order to protect aspects of your personal identity. Things like your children or grandchildren’s pictures, names and birth dates. Again, use common sense in what you will or will not post.
The whole issue of social networking etiquette is sweeping the Internet. Tim O’Reilly posted some great information on his blog and his reader’s comments support the feeling that a bit of politeness goes a long way.
The bottom line is, social networks are merely another tool that can be used to increase our effectiveness. Use them wisely.
Kathleen Gage
The Street Smarts Marketer