That is the quandary I face very often as a writer of a blog that is seen internationally. I get Facebook friend requests from people I've never met or have never had an email correspondence with because they are interested in the topic I write about—IT career—or because they feel they know me from reading my blog. I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure quite how to turn them down without appearing rude.
My Facebook friends include childhood friends, people I knew in high school, relatives, and coworkers. I also have people in the TR community who fit the term of friend as I would define it. These are people I've I know from their years of commenting in the blog forums, many of whom I've met in person. I consider them people with whom I can share my random stupid thoughts or day-to-day updates. They're not just business associates.
But then I get requests from someone who may feel they know me from my blog but who I don't know at all. I'm not being a snob, but I'm a little uneasy sharing with those folks details that go a little deeper than superficial business ones.
I asked Shawn Morton, who is Director of Mobile, Social & Emerging Media at Nationwide Insurance, to weigh in on this issue:
"I keep all of my purely professional network connections on LinkedIn. That allows me to connect with someone I meet at a conference or here at Nationwide without making a more personal connection via Facebook. Of course, there is a lot of overlap in my connections on each of those sites. I generally have to know someone pretty well to have them as a friend on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and be connected on LinkedIn."
But what does he do when the inevitable happens—a person who should be on LinkedIn friends him on Facebook?
"That has come up a few times. If I think it is someone I will be working with pretty closely, I accept it. If it is a more random request from someone I don't know, I usually ignore it."
And, of course, that's one reason why Facebook offers the Ignore option.
How do you guys handle the friend invite from a non-friend?
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.