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B2B Social Networking Etiquette: Is “Friending” Clients On Facebook Appropriate?

It’s no secret that Social Networking is at the center of Web 2.0. In fact, if you don’t watch it, social networking can become addictive, not to mention time-consuming! Every day I’m surprised at the number of old friends and non-business contacts whom I’ve completely forgotten about and who have re-entered my life by asking to “Friend” me on Facebook.com. Couple that with taking the time to examine and respond to all of the discussions going on within the LinkedIn groups I’m a member of and my day can slip away before I know it.

At any rate, from the standpoint of using social networking with the intent of growing your business, there are many ways to leverage the increasing number of social networking sites. I really want this blog post to focus on Facebook.com, though.

LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc. are great tools to use to connect to prospects and clients within a business context; however, I personally believe that Facebook is most appropriately used within the context of the user’s personal life. It’s a way to connect with old friends, let people know what you’re up to and really to share what’s going on in your personal life.

Here’s an analogy to consider: trying to “Friend” a client on Facebook might be something like inviting yourself to that client’s weekend backyard BBQ! There’s a place and time for business and a place and time for outside interests and I don’t think that showing up at your client’s house on the weekend to try to sell your products or services is the right venue for business to happen.

My advice: save your attempts at growing your professional network for LinkedIn and other professionally-oriented social networking sites and DON’T try to “Friend” your clients on Facebook.