Because LinkedIn is my main business connection source, I am referring more to that one. The first thing I notice about a request is whether or not they have put themselves in context. If I want to connect on LinkedIn with someone, I add a message saying I met them at a conference, or we have a mutual acquaintance, or I find their skills compatible with mine. I don’t usually just go for the default sentence that LinkedIn provides.
The second thing I do if I don’t know the person making the request, is to have a look at their LinkedIn profile. Are they someone that I share an industry with, or someone that has skills or services that I might be interesting in utilizing? Sometimes I know that they just want my connection to get access to my LinkedIn connections. It isn’t that they are interested in me as much as what they can pull out of my connections.
Networking is important, I know. However, it needs to be professional and thought out. I am not part of a laundry list of connections and I don’t want my associates to be part of that laundry list either. I think about it before I connect with someone I don’t know.
For Facebook, you also have to think about who you want to “friend”. Even if it is your company site, you may want to check out the people behind the friend request first. You don’t want to let an individual post things to your site that could be detrimental to your company’s image.
At the end of the day, if you have made a mistake in letting someone connect or friend you, there are fairly easy fixes. You can remove a connection or unfriend someone. They won’t be notified of your actions and would only find out if they try to access either of your sites. If matters reach a point of harassment, you can always report them.
We all need friends, but as your mother may have told you, “pick your friends carefully.” Too true, even in business.