Let me start by saying I like to network, reconnect, meet new people, etc. I welcome your friend request.

I don’t know about you, but it seems like my incoming “mystery friend requests” are on the rise. I used to respond to each one individually, but now I offer this advice to everyone. This is the same advice I give my social media networking students at the Small Business Development Center at State College of Florida, and I think it will help you connect with ALL of your desired new friends—not just me.

If I don’t immediately recognize your name or face when I receive your friend request, I have to try and guess why you’re “friending” me. Here are a few possibilities that come to mind:

  • To make a business contact or further your career
  • To meet someone with common interests
  • To hire a marketing company
  • To sell me something I really, really need
  • To spam me about something I really don’t need
  • To find out when I’m going to be out of town so you can steal my stuff
  • To try to steal my identity
  • Because you’re a stalker
  • Because you have me confused with somebody else

Yikes! That’s a lot of opportunity for confusion. But it only takes a moment to make a quality contact with a new Facebook friend if you follow a few common-sense steps:

  1. Tell me why you’re introducing yourself or if this is a re-introduction.
  2. If this is about business, have plenty of information on your Facebook page to help me figure out why you’re introducing yourself—including your company name, your city and a recognizable photo of YOU (not your kids, ferret or favorite celebrity). Make sure your security settings allow potential friends to see that information.
  3. Both (recommended).

Again, I’m not a snob. I love to meet people. That’s why I’m on Facebook. But just like you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger at a networking event, silently shove a business card into the person’s hand and instantly move on to the next person, it is also bad form to “friend” people without offering some context. Unless you’re a spammer, one quality connection is better than 1,000 thoughtlessly accepted.