I recently received this question from a client:
Q: I often receive personal Facebook Friend requests from Business Acquaintances – they ARE people I would like to do business with but I am not comfortable ‘friending’ them personally – should I accept?
A: You are correct to be concerned. If you are using your personal Facebook profile for anything related to your private or family life, it is not appropriate to ‘friend’ or connect with, your business colleagues and acquaintances. The best way to deal with this is refer them to your BUSINESS page so they can follow you there. To do this, you click the person’s name (in blue) – NOT the accept nor the ignore button, click on their name, which will take you to their page – since they have invited you, you will have the ability to ‘message them’ (you cannot usually just message someone who is not yet a friend)
Click the ‘message’ button and a pop up, like an email, will appear. In that, you can then say something like “Thank you for the invitation, please join me on my Facebook Business Page at http://www.facebook.com/LisaMarieDiasDesigns where I post helpful tips and advice on effectively managing your digital presence”. No need to explain that you will not be friending them personally. When you add the link to your FB page, it will generate a preview of the page which is nice, as it will be colorful and hopefully encourage them to ‘like’ it.