When I attend a networking event and receive a follow-up LinkedIn request from someone I met, I gladly accept. LinkedIn is a platform built for professionals to connect so I'm all for staying in touch with new acquaintances.
What happens when they find me on Facebook and ask to connect? Most people who do this think it will help build a relationship, giving them an opportunity to learn more about me to create a stronger bond.
The reality is it makes me very uncomfortable. Here's why.
Showing Your Non-Business Side
Take Bob Boxer (it's not his real name but I'll use it for this post). Bob and I met doing charity work for a non-profit. He works for a company that provides business services to all kinds of companies. Bob asked me if we were in the market for such services. I told him no, but said he could stay in touch to see if there are opportunities down the road. A week later, I got a Facebook friend request from him, which I reluctantly accepted.
I'm sure Bob meant well by staying connected through Facebook. Unfortunately he, like many people, posts strong political opinions and stories that would be inappropriate to share with a prospect you are courting.
The more of Bob's posts I saw, the more I came to dislike him. I didn't like his seemingly radical political stance. I didn't agree with his side on news events that occurred. I didn't like his jokes. This was unexpected because we got along very well at the charity work day.
The part of him I didn't get to see, and am no longer interested in seeing, was a key component for building a business relationship: how has he helped other people who are like me? Such posts would likely have been on LinkedIn, if he remembered to post them at all. Unfortunately for him (and perhaps fortunately for me), he showed me a side to his personality that would have caused friction had he brought his personal opinions into a business conversation.
Poor Bob. He has no idea he has alienated me. There's no chance I will ever do business with him because I now see him in a different light.
There are stories of friends getting into disagreements over political posts, and in some cases, seeking therapy due to the stress caused by posts they see.
Bob would have been better off "liking" Presstacular's Facebook page. As for my personal Facebook page... that's, well, personal.
I admit that I do have many business contacts connected to my Facebook account. I've known most of these people for quite a while. We share information to help each other, including motivational tips, information on our industry and news about mutual friends and colleagues. Many are like-minded and I maintain a respect for those who having opposing views.
I'm fairly cautious about what I post. I'll share business-related news and articles with everyone and family-related material only with my family list.
Facebook's lists allow you to segment your connections so you can freely post what you would like to each list. If you have a mix of business and personal connections, be careful that you don't share everything with everyone. Just as I formed an opinion about Bob, people who read my posts will form an opinion about me. And for my business contacts, I want to keep that professional, which is why I'll stick to LinkedIn for new business acquaintances.
Side note: if you'd like to connect with me on LinkedIn, please mention that you read this blog so I have context for your request. For Facebook personal connections, let's break bread first.