I’ve just started receiving a flurry of Facebook friend requests from people I don’t even know. And like my mother, Facebook is recommending people for me to be friends with. I suspect the increase in friend invites has everything to do with Facebook’s new design feature which offers friend recommendations on the front page. It’s right there next to my news feed of my actual friends. It’s so intrusive. Just like my mother.
Want to be someone’s friend? Introduce yourself
It’s odd that I have to write a subtitle like that. But sadly given the mechanisms and behaviors around social media, it comes off as perfectly normal to ask someone we don’t know to be our friend through a social network without introducing ourselves. And to a degree I’ve seen this behavior bleed into the real world, but only by a few select people. Ever have someone come up to you and say, “Can I have your card?” and then nothing else? Or someone walk around at a business function and just shove their business card in your face without even speaking to you? Yes, I’ve seen both happen, but gladly only a few times.
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If you’re going to friend a complete stranger, introduce yourself and why you’d like to connect. Again, why the hell do I have to write this? Because I just received about a dozen friend invites in the past week from people I don’t know and only two of them actually spent the time to write one sentence introducing themselves. Why, why, why wouldn’t you introduce yourself to someone you don’t even know? What is a person who doesn’t introduce them self thinking? Do they believe because I have 1,500+ friends on Facebook that I’m just collecting these friends like bottle caps? If they do believe that, is that how they want me to think of them? As much as I value a bottle cap?
But I don’t jump down people’s throat who don’t introduce themselves. Instead, I send a standard reply to everyone, but personalize it by putting their actual name in the message. Here’s my standard reply:
TITLE: Friend Request
I saw your friend request. Thanks. Excuse me for my ignorance, but have we met before?
About 3/4th of the people do reply. Usually it’s a situation of us not having met before but we have similar interests or they saw that we have a lot friends in common. If they just reply, then I’m more than happy to be their friend on Facebook, but if they don’t reply I refuse to friend them. And that’s what astounds me. The people who want to be my friend on Facebook yet refuse to engage in dialogue.
One quarter of all people who friend me on Facebook don’t respond to personal messages
It’s amazing the number of people who DON’T respond to that message right after they send a friend request. Of the people I don’t know who send me friend requests, I estimate it’s about 25 percent. That’s mind blowing. I can’t even begin to think what’s going through their head. What’s the logic? Have any of you readers ever done this? Can you explain it to me? I’ll have to interview the next person who does this to me to determine why the lack of response.
Lack of response after a friend request can actually be damaging
If you choose to ignore a direct message after a friend request, don’t expect anything from that person again. That’s exactly what happened to me. Some guy sent a friend request, I responded with a personal response, and then he ignored me. Two months later his PR firm sent me a request asking if I would write a blog post about his company. The nerve and gall was amazing. I’m sure he never realized that his ignoring me would slap him in the face later on. This is a really fascinating two part story that begins with the PR firm treating me like a tool, and then the client being clueless. Give it a read.
- Hey PR, bloggers are not tools to be used
- My appearance on John C. Dvorak’s Cranky Geeks. Right at the beginning, John and I go at it talking about this story.
- UPDATE: Bad PR experience story. PR firm’s client is obtuse.
How best to be recognized and remembered by a new Facebook friend
This advice is definitely not for the people who don’t want to spend the fifteen seconds to write a simple note to introduce themselves. To be recognized and remembered by a new Facebook friend, you need to be the first person to extend effort and show it. Here are some techniques that others have used on me, and I definitely remember them as a result.
- Find what other content that person has published online. Ideally, they’ll have a blog. If not, it might be a Flickr, Twitter, or YouTube account. Best way to figure this out is to search for them on FriendFeed. That’s where they’ll have all their social media publishing services listed.
- Read at minimum two blog posts over two weeks. Leave comments on those blog posts.You want that person to know that you’re following them in earnest.
- After the two weeks, send a friend request introducing yourself.
It definitely takes a little extra work, but I guarantee you’ll be recognized and remembered. And isn’t that what you want, rather being tossed off as yet another bottle cap?