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To Friend or Not to Friend: Handling Facebook Friend Requests from Customers and Colleagues

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Submitted by Tim Roper on Friday, March 18, 2011

If you’re an avid Facebook user, you’ve surely experienced the internal turmoil that ensues when an acquaintance requests to join your network, and you don’t necessarily want that person knowing what you’re up to on the weekends or seeing your pictures. If that person happens to be a customer or colleague, the potential for causing offense amplifies your anxiety, as you don’t want to risk alienating someone with whom you have a business relationship.

Here are a few suggestions for handling such a situation:

Draw the Line. If the acquaintance won’t take the hint or insists on being Facebook friends, all is not lost. You’ll just need to manage what he/she can and cannot see. Go to your list of friends and click the “Create List” button. Name the list “Professional” or something similar. Then, add the person or persons whom you wish to keep from seeing certain parts of your profile. You’ll then need to edit your photo albums and privacy settings to indicate which parts that person can view. This is the most time-consuming option, obviously, as you’ll have to micromanage elements of your profile, but effective if done correctly.

Divide and Conquer. Set up a separate Facebook page for your business. Most customers, upon seeing that you have both a personal and business profile, will choose the latter by default, thereby saving you the anxiety in the first place.

Re-direct. Explain that you don’t use Facebook that much, and you’d prefer to stay in touch with him or her on a different social media platform, such as the business-networking site Linked-In. You could even ask if he/she would be willing to write a “Recommend my Work” post on your Linked-In profile.

However, if none of these options do the trick, there’s always one last tactic…

Hide. You’ll probably only want to do this as a last resort, as it might make it difficult for your actual friends to find you. Go to the pull-down “Account” menu in the upper-right corner of your profile page and select “Privacy Settings.” Click on “View Settings” underneath the “Connecting on Facebook” heading. Set the first item, “Search for you on Facebook,” to “Friends Only.” This will remove your profile from the results of searches performed by anyone other than your friends.

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