Recently I have realized that I get more Facebook requests than LinkedIn requests. A lot of the Facebook friend requests that I have been getting are from colleagues and business contacts. It’s the type of requests that I used to get through LinkedIn all the time.
Initially I struggled with how to handle the Facebooks requests and whether I should connect to all these business contacts through Facebook. For a long time my Facebook friend requests continued to grow and grow while I debated how to use these two separate systems. I did not want to lose the networking ability you get by connecting to people through these systems, but I did want to have a place to connect with friends and family, which was separated from my work.
Finally I have come up with a solution that has worked really well for me and has let me enjoy Facebook while still allowing me to continue to connect with a powerful business network. When a business person asks to be my friend on Facebook, I simply ignore their request on Facebook, but send them a request through LinkedIn. I usually add a message that says:
“Thanks for your friend request on Facebook. I use Facebook for personal use only and not for business networking. I would love to connect with you through LinkedIn where my business contacts are. Please accept my invitation.”
This way I can use Facebook with all my friends (I love it for reconnecting with old friends!) and family. I can post pictures of my kids and family activities, and not worry about what business professional may be seeing about my personal life. I don’t have to ever worry about dealing with the cumbersome Facebook permissions, or that a friend will write something on my wall that I don’t necessarily want to share with my business network. I can tell you that I have NEVER received a negative response to my message. In fact more often than not people tell me that they like my approach and are adopting it. I feel like this keeps me tightly in the business networking game, but lets me run free and network with people I enjoy being social with. I really do believe that a nice, clear separation between personal life and business life is imperative to helping keep your life balanced.