Sterile Facebook Friend Requests = Impotent Relationships

I'm amazed at how many friend requests I get from senders I've never met, with no note or introduction . Just a blank request - no "hi" or "hey we have mutual interests" ... just a blank request. Receiving one of these is like having someone come up to you at a business meeting or mixer, hand you her business card - then walk away. It's not just impersonal, it borders on being rude.

I know that 90% of the people who do this, don't realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of a sterile friend request. This is because most of those same people don't know how to be a Facebook friend yet. And the majority of people trying to use Facebook to grow a business don't understand that BEING a good friend is the first step to having friends that will help you advance.

Those that are yielding high benefits in business from using social media, practice and focus on being friends rather than collecting friends into a cluster of potential buyers. I don't want to be in that cluster, and when Facebook friends continually push stuff at me, never commenting or showing an interest in me as a friend, I either hide them or defriend them. ... because they are not my friends ... they are users.

Why would I want to be friends on Facebook with someone whose sole interest was to get me to buy her product - or read his books - or vote for her in an election, or listen to his music / band, or come to the next event, or join his organization? Don't get me wrong, it's great to promote what you're doing, but asking someone to buy into what you're selling (in one sense or another) is making a withdrawal on the bank account of friendship - and in order to make the withdrawal, one must first make deposits.

When Making a Friend Request - Write a Short Note

If you're friending someone you haven't met or don't know, always send a little message stating why you want to be friends. Nothing elaborate - just be sincere and focus on the person you're friending, not on yourself. Something like ...

"Hi Frank, I noticed we have mutual friends in Sue and Terry. I work for _____ and would like to learn more about what you do."

"Janet, I saw that you're both a fan of folk music and Irish music and that you live in the DC area. I live on the Eastern shore and have those same interests. I'd like to friends on Facebook."

Both of these sample notes (boring I know) show that the requester has a non-threatening reason for wanting to connect on Facebook and has an interest in the person.  The goal in asking for friendship should be to show an interest in what the potential friend might want or need - not what you'll gain by being his or her friend.

What NOT to Write in a Friend Request

I make it a habit never to accept a sterile friend request. If I get one, I send a note back (before accepting the request) with this phrase, "Thanks for the friend request. Just curious... how do you know me?"

Most respond immediately with a kind note, and I accept about 90% of the requests. But some responses are clear indicators that are users out there who see friends as objects.

Here are some responses I've actually received to the "how do you know me" question ...

"Oh, Mindie .. sorry. I sent the friend request to the wrong person."
(Boy, do I feel special)

"Hey Mindie, I'm in a band and I play folk music so I thought you might like to be my friend and hear about my music."
(Lucky me - I get to be your groupie)

"I've just joined ___[Direct selling company name deleted here] ___, and I'm trying to build my clientèle to further my business."
(So dumb, I can't even comment)

"I'm a writer. I wanted you to connect with other writers so I can sell more books."
(Am I supposed to buy your book?)

"Hey there, Mindie. Sorry I didn't introduce myself. I thought you knew me. I'm a social media expert and I notice you have an interest in social media."
(Some expert... can't tell when she's insulting someone - with social media.)

"I am an expert in using the Law of Attraction. I found you on The Secret fan page. I think I have some skills that may be of use to you."
(btw, I got this request within an hour of joining the Secret fan page. This guy was stalking the page).

Always Put Being a Friend First - Apply the Golden Rule

Ten good steps to being a good Facebook friend.

1. Always send a message with a friend request and focus it on the potential friend.
2. Comment more than you post.
3. Wish people a happy birthday.
4. Post things that may be useful to others.
5. Make people laugh or feel good with postings
6. Avoid being negative
7. Avoid making all your comments and posts about you.
8. Never slam another person in your posts
9. Congratulate, Encourage, Recognize, Affirm others
10.Have fun and be fun

Facebook is a virtual gathering of friends... and every friend has an intrinsic, unseen value that can bring abundant blessings - blessings one may never have expected - word of mouth advertising, recommendations, connections to those that help you move up. But to have a friend, you must first be a friend. Treat others as you would like to be treated in this virtual community, and the strong relationships you build will yield great benefits.


  1. Well done as usual.
    We were discussing this the other day at the paper. Business people are so excited about Facebook now and many if not most use it more poorly in proportion to their excitement (I picture a guy in a suit logging in, picking up his computer and trying to shake the money out).
    People see it as a free billboard rather than, as you said, a BAH mixer.
    They don't want to devote the resources, i.e. pay someone, to help develop a program (pogram? I hate sales) that makes it communal.
    Instead of a fond feeling, they're developing eye-rolls and ignores from the very people they either want to do more business with or develop into genuine contacts.
    Anyway, well put.

  2. Anonymous10:50 AM

    I treat them like spam, though I do send a short note saying I don't accept requests from people I don't know. They are almost always men with only girls on their friend's list (this is a red flag to me). Once I got a reply back asking where I was flag saying that I really don't know this person, and once I got a reply back saying I was 'a meanie'. Not really sure why I was a meanie since I tried very hard to be polite.


  3. You tried harder to be polite than I would have. Thanks for the comment to both you and Tony.

    I just got a request this morning from someone that a)I don't know b)had no mutual friends with and c)had all his friends hidden - with only public information being MALE and SEAFORD, DE as hometown.

    C'mon people. I actually sent a response back saying - "I don't know you, we have no mutual friends and you've allowed me no hint as to who you might be connected to - can't see your friends, profile or wall. Now, what benefit is there for me to accept your friend request?"

    Haven't heard back. Why don't I just hit IGNORE and forget about him? Because, there's a part of me that thinks this person is just ignorant about Facebook, doesn't realize how his security settings show his profile, and maybe there's some value being friends.

    Sheesh... this friend thing makes me tired. One of my new "facebook friends" posted a comment today, telling me I look like a turkey. Nice. Feeling a "de-friend" coming on.



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