There’s a great post on Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation today entitled “The Next Big Think On-Line could well be Anonymity”.

It got me thinking about (and researching a little) the idea that you are “Judged by the Company You Keep”. WikiAnswers tells me that “This comment is known as early as 1541 in an Old English form. In 1591 is appears as ‘if a man can be known as nothing else, then he may be known by his companions’. In 1912 it is quoted as we know it today, by Saki, in the Chronicles of Clovis.” Ralph Waldo Emerson says similar “Show me who a man’s friends are and I will tell you who he is.”

I’ve tried to approach this is a simple way on LinkedIn – I have turned my connections to “Your connections are not allowed to view your connections list.” It’s not that I don’t like my connections (I personally know them all!) – but the on-line crowd for someone my age (47) and British (not as web-friendly/gregarious as our North American friends) – is a little eclectic. If you took ALL “the company I keep” – I’d be pretty happy at you judging me in the round. I’d think that around 5% of the people I know are connected to me via LinkedIn.

I suspect readers of this blog are less of the younger, “Facebook crowd” – and more looking to examine and extend their Personal Networks. In building and developing your Personal Network – it’s important to consider the effect the “company you keep” has on your personal brand. Don’t try to be someone you are not – but remember your Personal Network (company you keep) is a significant indication of this. Make sure that your “public’ presence (especially on-line in this day and age) is a fair reflection of who you are.