In 2009, I published a blog post about my then new social networking strategy. My focus was on Facebook, though other social media outlets were mentioned. Recently, a discussion in our Indie Business Network member Secret Facebook Group reminded me of that 2009 post, and how important it is to be intentional about how we use social media as business leaders. Last week, when I saw some of our members struggling with how to handle Facebook friend requests from people they met in our private group, but had no other connection with, I posted a brief commentary on the topic. Here is what I said.
Almost immediately, several members commented in appreciation of my statement taking a stand against expecting people to consider you a Facebook “friend” just because you had a great chat in a group. I figured my approach might be helpful to non-members who read this blog, so I thought I'd share it with you. Here are a few more thoughts.
Decide What Facebook is For … For You
Only you can decide how you want to use Facebook. You can watch others to get a few ideas, but the ultimate choice is yours.
What are your criteria for accepting and sending friend requests? Establish your practice and then use it as long as it works for you.
Don't Feel Pressure
This is probably the most important part of this post.
Resist the urge to accept a friend request just because you don't want someone to think you are not a nice person.
If you had a great chat in a private group, and you are happy with the relationship staying there, then keep it there. You cannot possibly make everyone happy, so if someone sends you a friend request, and don't want to be “friends,” then decline the request. Stay connected to them in the group if that's what makes your life work. Don't change what makes you comfortable about a relationship to please someone you don't know outside of a few pleasant Facebook chats.
Allow Relationships to Evolve
Over time, you may feel like someone who was a complete stranger in January has become a friend by October. Roll with that feeling, if it makes you happy and if you think that person would enhance your life if they were a Facebook “friend.” Nothing is set in stone in life, so allow online relationships to evolve just like real life ones.
Allow Your Facebook Strategy to Evolve
Facebook can be a moving target, so be flexible. How you decide to use Facebook in 2015 may not work in 2016, either because you change or because Facebook changes. Allow your approach to evolve as you do, and as Facebook does. Don't apologize. Just do what works for you, and tweak where needed as you go.
That last thing any of us have time for is agonizing over how to use Facebook. Decide what works for you and work it. Then, change as necessary.
Question: Is this approach helpful to you? How do you handle friend requests from people you don't know?