greek-dancers.jpgI admit it. It’s hard for me to say “no” to a friend or connection request on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Even if I don’t know the person, I feel compelled to say “yes” when they ask.

I know I’m probably opening up the flood gates on more requests to link up, but I needed to get this off my chest.

How do you say “no” to someone who just wants to be your networking buddy, your cyber pal, your Internet friendly?

And the bigger questions — Is it a smart career move to nix certain folks from your list of contacts? Or, can you end up diluting your network if you have too many people in your circle?

It blows my mind when I see people with 400 connections/friends. How can one person know so many people well enough to have them on their networking list? It’s like weddings with 400 guests. I never got that. How on earth do two people know so many people well enough to want them there for such an intimate event?

These social networking sites have become like a scene from the movie “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding.” Endless, faceless Greek relatives no one knows that well and don’t really want to know…unless you’ve had a few too many glasses of Ouzo that is. (FYI, my hubby and I had small, skinny Greek wedding with 50 wedding guests. Our backyard really couldn’t handle more, much to the chagrin of many of my big, fat Greek relatives.)

One colleague of mine, who writes for a major newspaper, accepts pretty much anyone that asks her on her Facebook account but it pickier with her LinkedIn account, surmising that’s her serious group of contacts.

I also see my LinkedIn account as a bit more serious, but I still accept every Tom, Nick and Harry that asks me to link in.

The bigger the network, the better my networking potential, no?

I figured I’d get some input from a cyber networking expert, so last night I emailed Alison Doyle, author of “Internet Your Way to a New Job: How to Really Find a Job Online” and the guide for the site’s job searching section.

“I don’t think that more is necessarily better. I think having good, strong connections that you know and who can help you build your career or connect with people who can, is better than having too many connections who aren’t relevant,” she explains.

As for her own friend-accepting habits: “From my perspective, and this is because of what I do, I don’t accept every connection that asks. If I did, I’d be inundated with friends who are job seekers who want personal help, etc. etc. I’m sure you know what that’s like…”

Oh yeah, you know it sista.

But how the heck do you let people down? I have a policy not to recommend anyone who asks me on LinkedIn because I’m a journalist and feel it’s inappropriate. But conveying this to the people that have asked me for a recommendation has been tough. I feel so bad when I have to say no.

That’s probably why I never reject a friend or connection request.

Doyle has an interesting approach for this. “I tend to ignore those that I don’t accept rather than declining them or saying I don’t know them, because I don’t want them to feel bad.”

I read this late last night and decided to take her advice starting this morning.

And believe it or not I had a LinkedIn connection request and a Facebook friend invitation in my email box first thing this morning so I was ready to test out my new found backbone.

But guess who the requests were from? Doyle.

I’m not kidding.

Ok, I’m sure you know what happened. I accepted her invitations ASAP.

Bring on the wedding guests. Opa!

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