I'm finding I don't build large social networks online, at least not compared to other people I know. My Facebook account occasionally rises above 100 connections, but seldom for more than a few days. My LinkedIn network is relatively small, with no recommendations. The same holds for other social networks such as Yahoo, Google, and LiveJournal. I simply don't randomly add people to my network -- not even acquaintances.
The job hunt reminds me that I should expand these networks. HR departments check these connections, whether we like that reality or not. Being "social" does matter to some academic departments, too, especially if you are applying for "new media" teaching posts.
I suppose I could "request" every classmate from high school through my doctoral studies, but most are not people I remember. Those I do remember, it is often for reasons that leave me disinclined to add the individual. I've never been a social butterfly, and the online world makes that rather obvious.
It's strange to think that people care if I have 20 "friends" or 2000, though I do know evidence exists that this matters in careers like sales and marketing. It somehow seems odd to add people I couldn't possible consider real friends, but I do need to seem more active.
A basic truth is that knowing people leads to opportunities, especially for a freelance writer and consultant. So, I am going to attempt to expand my networks. If you are LinkedIn or some other network, maybe you'd like to "connect" with me. Apparently, it is the modern way to build a Rolodex of contacts.