Thanks for your Friend Request – but who are you?

With the explosion of Social Networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook – it’s becoming easier to connect with people.

I put myself out there across a number of channels – you can find me on Live Messenger, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and others, and I advertise this fact via the web, e-mail signatures and business cards. I encourage people to get in touch with me using whatever method they prefer.

More often than not I find that these connections take the form of cementing a relationship I’ve already begun off-line, meeting people at a networking event, a Conference, or during a Trade Show – most people naturally ping a request off using their tool or tools of choice – and it’s not unusual for me to meet somebody new, then for them to start following me on Twitter, drop me an e-mail follow-up and send me a connection request on LinkedIn.

This is fine, and using tools such as HelloTxt makes it easy for me to update my status on multiple sites at once – for instance, some of my personal status updates get sent just to Twitter and Facebook, whilst some professional updates just to Twitter and LinkedIn, and others to all sites. I get responses back through all mediums – I know a lot of people who use Plaxo, but not LinkedIn, or Twitter, but not Plaxo. It really doesn’t matter – as long as we’re connected we can continue our conversation in whatever way is most convenient!

So it’s easy to connect with me and I actively encourage it. But is it too easy?

I’ve noticed a growing trend of receiving Friend Requests from people I simply don’t know. The request comes with no introduction (other than the generic so-and-so would like to connect with you on Facebook/LinkedIn/etc – well duh!) and whilst I can usually work out who the individual is by a sleuthing process of finding mutual contacts, industry relationships or just plain old Googling on their names, I still find the process bemusing!

Imagine for a moment you walked up to somebody at a traditional business networking event, said nothing, thrust your business card into their hand, and walked away. What do you think that persons reaction would be? Probably a little mystified, right? So my question is – why would their reaction to a request for an exchange of contact details in the on-line world, without any introduction, be any different?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not offended or annoyed by these people reaching out to contact me – but it all feels so… generic!

My reaction to these types of requests is nearly always the same, “Thanks for the request – where do we know one another from?”. Quite often the response comes back “We don’t, but we’ve a mutual friend in…” and so the conversation continues. Wouldn’t it have been easier to take 30 seconds to type that introduction in so it was included with the initial request?

Then there’s people who don’t respond to my polite request for a conversation at all. That feels a lot like you’ve been randomly clicking on buttons, rather than trying to actually connect with people! Here’s the thing – visiting a networking event in person isn’t about collecting as many business cards as possible, it’s about making quality connections, and using Social Networking is exactly the same. Don’t connect for the sake of making yourself look popular!

So – I encourage you to connect with me on-line in whatever way you feel best, and don’t be afraid to reach out to me to start a conversation – but please… at least give me a hint as to why we should be talking. 🙂

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to help them grow their businesses. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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5 Responses to “Thanks for your Friend Request – but who are you?”


  1. 1 Technogran August 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Richard, I think that quite a few people just do it to see just how many \’friends\’ or contacts they can gather and I agree, it is annoying especially when they don\’t include some sort of explanation of how and why they came across you in the first place. Good post which makes a very valid point.

  2. 2 Richard August 6, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks for the comments, glad you found the post interesting.I don\’t find a lack of introduction annoying, per se, just a bit bemusing! It\’s nice to get lots of contact requests, but to maintain a good signal-to-noise ratio, I like to know who I\’m connecting to and why! 🙂

  3. 3 John March 8, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I have gotten 22 popups already asking to be added to my windows live messenger contact lists. How come unknown users are allowed to do this with no explanation as to who they are?

  4. 4 Richard March 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    John – the Windows Live Services have some rather glaring issues regarding unsolicited messages. As somebody who constantly has to remove (what is very clearly) spam from this blog, I sympathise with you!

  5. 5 John March 21, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Here is a link to the growing list of unknown friend requests that I have received: None have a profile! http://k0bkl.org/abuse/spooks.html


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