To friend or not to friend. That is the question.


Building business relationships today involves more than a handshake and a business card. It often continues or even begins, with social media. Instead of a one-off encounter, like-minded folks connect — and stay connected — using  Facebook and other social media platforms.

Building business relationships today involves more than a handshake and a business card. It often continues or even begins, with social media. Instead of a one-off encounter, like-minded folks connect — and stay connected — using Facebook and other social media platforms.

What kind of friends are you looking for?

Using Facebook effectively is about relationships, not numbers. It takes time to build and maintain relationships, so focus on adding relevant contacts rather than friending anyone and everyone. Who do you need to succeed? Clients, colleagues and suppliers should be on your list. So should people who refer you. Add in prospects and other people who can help you.

What about your friends? Your family? On Facebook, it’s okay to mix business with pleasure. In fact, family and friends often become clients, and both give referrals. But focus on the people who can help you succeed.

Dealing with friend requests

Some people accept every friend request they receive. They’re often reluctant to offend or too busy to screen these individuals. Unless they customize their privacy settings or restrict the content they publish, their personal security and privacy may be vulnerable.

When you receive friend requests, think twice before clicking “accept.” Is this someone you know? Can you afford the time to build this relationship? If so, say yes. If not, wait until you have time to screen them and respond appropriately.


Consider the motivation behind friend requests. Are they building a database, not a relationship? These “friend-collectors” believe in quantity not quality. They aggressively market themselves by spamming their list. And unless you’ve changed your account and privacy settings, they’re free to exploit your list of friends, as soon as you accept their friend request.

Do I know you?

Sometimes, friend requests come from people you don’t know or don’t recognize. Should you accept them? Friending strangers can be risky. Send a polite thank you, apologizing that you can’t place them and asking how you met. If they respond, proceed accordingly. If they don’t, they’re probably not “friend material.”

You can also do a little digging into their profile:

  • Are all the friends on a man’s list beautiful women with no real connection to each other? He may be trophy-collecting, especially if he doesn’t live nearby.
  • Is the person trying to boost his own reputation by collecting high-octane industry “peers” on his list of friends?
  • Is there no picture? Just click “not now” for these would-be friends.

Psst! Guess what I heard!

Be circumspect about your private life. Don’t post anything on Facebook you wouldn’t want customers to see, and tighten up your account and privacy settings. Remember, a wide-open profile displays personal information like your phone number, religion, sexual preference and relationship status. It shows your children’s names and photos — even those embarrassing party pics you’re tagged in.

Creating limited lists in Facebook allows you to accept new friends while minimizing the risk. You decide what details you’re willing to share, and with whom.

But Facebook’s account and privacy settings don’t confer blanket protection. Use common sense and discretion with the information you share. For instance, never invite a break-and-enter by announcing you’ll be away from your home. After all, not every friend is a good friend.

facebook logo

Q & A on P’s & Q’s

Should you include a quick, personal note when friending someone?

Always — it’s only polite. Besides, how many times have you forgotten a new acquaintance’s name before saying goodbye? A personal note makes your name and how you met more memorable. Try something like, “It was nice meeting you at the chamber of commerce the other day.”

What about inappropriate posts by friends and family?

You can keep their embarrassing posts, pictures and invitations from showing up on your wall by keeping “wild ones” on a limited list and adjusting your privacy settings so they can’t post on your wall. Or just “hide” them.

Can I create a personal profile and a business profile?

Multiple profiles sounds like a good idea, but Facebook doesn’t allow it. You can, however, create a business page and a personal profile.

If I unfriend people, will they find out?

Facebook won’t notify them, but they may notice if they want to contact you, if your posts stop arriving, or if Facebook recommends you as a friend.

What’s the difference between hiding, unfriending and blocking?

  • Hiding – Their posts do not appear on your wall
  • Unfriending – They are removed from your lists of friends
  • Blocking – They can no longer find you on Facebook
The diverse experience Sue Sutcliffe has gained as one of Canada’s digital marketing pioneers, will help your business or brand dominate the digital.
Twitter LinkedIn Instagram Contact Us