You’ve finally built a relationship with a potential customer and are getting pretty chummy. Thinking a social media customer connection is a great next step you start in with… “Hey let’s connect” you say. “Great!, LinkedIn?” says the customer. “No, I was thinking Facebook networking.” you blurt out. Silence [cricket noise]. Things just got awkward. Why?
You see it all the time. LinkedIn users “policing” and chastising others for their updates that are not business related. “Put that stuff on Facebook” is their cry. There’s this unwritten law that certain social shares belong to certain social media venues it seems. Facebook for personal stuff and LinkedIn for business stuff. “Thou shalt not mix the two”. This also applies to connecting and befriending as it turns out.
I started my personal Facebook profile with strictly business intentions when Facebook was first launched. There were no business and branding pages yet. So off I go and started friending those that I wanted to connect with professionally. Later, however, personal friends and family joined in on the fun. The business aspect turned to personal. So I made a decision, my Facebook profile would be for personal. Most use it for just that today.
Facebook networking, perception is everything.
So, why did that innocent invite become awkward?
First, it can just sound wrong to the potential client. They’re thinking “let’s keep this business” but might not say it. Second, if they do indeed connect you now have to be very careful of what you post on your personal timeline and who sees what. This becomes tiresome quickly and sometimes mistakes are made. Political, religious, jokes, after-hour activities posts can be insulting to some. For example, I had a business “friend” that started posting anti-mychurch propaganda that I found insulting. This was actually the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for me and I went from 5000 Facebook connections to a couple of hundred close friends and family only.
“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Word to the wise: You should not mention something they posted on Facebook especially if you’re not connected. “Hey, I see your wife just got a tummy tuck. How’d that work out?” You have now jumped into their personal space uninvited. You are now officially creepy.
You can’t cross the line.
Businesses and social media usage are uneasy partners in the first place. There’s a lot of mistrust and misunderstanding. To ask to become their friend really is crossing the line for most business relationships. It just makes sense to stay away from using your Facebook profile to make business connections.
As tempting as it is to share your personal coolness don’t. Make sure you have a professional LinkedIn profile and/or Facebook business/branding page and share that only. If they don’t have a LinkedIn account then swap business cards and let it go.
What if they invite you?
Would it be an affront to certain individuals if you didn’t accept their friend requests on Facebook? Of course it would! So, build a Facebook page and direct them there with a professional email. Even though Facebook has settings that limit how much certain “friends” are exposed to your personal postings, I still recommend you refuse to mingle with clients on your personal Facebook profile.
Remember, LinkedIn for business customer connections and Facebook for everything else. Twitter… well that’s another article for another time.
I am sure there will be some that will disagree with me on this. I’m curious then… What has been your experience with asking potential clients to friend on your personal Facebook profile?© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on