So when is it appropriate to add someone as a friend on Facebook or Linkedin? For some reason, this issue has come up several times in the past few weeks. Let's explore some situations where this occured:
1. If I even talk to someone from my school, my year or senior, I add him/her as a friend on Facebook and Linkedin. It always seems appropriate.
2. If I talk to an alum, what do I do? This issue came up in a Career Management Center presentation. The center says that it is appropriate to add the alum on linkedin, but not on facebook, unless you two are really good friends. This seemed to be fine until...
3. I spoke to another alum (all names not mentioned, of course). He complained of a neighbor who knew him, and added him on linkedin and Facebook. He felt that building networks was all about creating value for the other person, and if the neighbor had never added any sort of value for him.
4. Last, but not least, what about Professors? A classmate added a professor on Facebook, and the professor told him (and the rest of the class) that it was fine to add him as a Facebook friend, but only after the grades for the class had been released. Now I am certainly friending him on Facebook the moment the grades are released.
5. At another event, three speakers said completely different things. One said if all the participants did not add him on linkedin, they were losing an opportunity to engage with a potentially importnt contact. Another speaker said that she did not take linkedin requests from anyone other than people she knew very well, but would gladly allow everyone to join her linkedin group. And the last speaker said that he would not accept anyone on linkedin unless he had known them for a while.
So where does this leave us in terms of Facebook and Linkedin etiquette? Nowhere. Like all good cases, there is no one correct answer (notice the effect B School has had on me!). It all depends on the context. The best thing to do is to ask the person, and only then send them a linkedin or facebook request.