Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

December 30th, 2009:

How Do I Know You Again?

It happened again this morning. I got an email from LinkedIn with the headline, “Mary Mankiewicz wants to keep in touch on LinkedIn!” I scratched my head. No recall of Mary Mankiewicz. I went to her LinkedIn profile page. Interesting, ambitious woman, eight or nine years younger than I, lots of experience in publishing. But no least clue that I have ever even met her.

I get machine-generated notes from LinkedIn and Facebook all the time asking to connect to my network, and generally I friend those who ask. I turn off Mafia Wars and Farmville and all that other stuff (no offense; I’m not interested in who you stabbed last night or where that new piglet came from) and enjoy the short posts, even though the scroll rate has gotten mighty fast lately. But I think it would be very courteous to include a note saying something like, “Hi Jeff! I was down the hall from Randy Osgood at Ziff-Davis at One Park Ave and we all had lunch once while you were up from Baltimore for a meeting. Oh, forgot–my maiden name was Chisholm.”

Ahhh. Sure. Mary Chisholm. Worked for PC Mag when I was at PC Tech Journal mid-80s, and (I think) was dating Randy, who was one of our sales reps at the time. (Note well: All these names are utterly fictitious. The situation is utterly real.) That’s all it would take, and would obviate the awkward need for me to ask her straight-out when she wants to network: How do I know you again?

This problem is not unique to me, though I imagine even moderately famous people have it far worse than I do. Here’s my solution: Every friend request sent by any social network must require a fill-out form that at least has a list of checkboxes under “I know you from…” for high school, college, job, church, volunteer work, or whatever. And under that a simple text box with a noodge over it saying something like, “As a courtesy, please jot a short note here indicating how you knew this person in the past.”

That’s all it would take. Ladies, please include your maiden name if that’s how I knew you back in the day and you don’t use it anymore. Thanks!