The most common question you get about online social networks like Facebook is: why should I add this person?
Maybe you hardly know them, maybe it's somebody you used to work with, maybe it's someone from high school that you have not seen in over a decade, or maybe it's someone you know, but are not all that interested in connecting with.
The bigger question you need to ask yourself is about what you're using these online social networks for in the first place. If it's purely a way to stay in touch with family and friends, then it has to stay pure and real for you. If it has the slightest whiff of self-promotion, to network, grow your business, etc... then ask yourself a bigger question:
What do I want to get out of this experience, and how does being a part of this online social network add value and help me accomplish this goal?
Let's run with the notion that you're a member of spaces like Facebook and MySpace to nurture your personal brand, connect and grow your business.
Maybe the question isn't, "why should I add this person?" but rather, "who is their network and can it add value to my experience online?"
No doubt we tend to look out for number one and our egos get in the way, but before you hit the "ignore" button on that friend request, don't worry so much about what they'll see about you or why they want to connect, and focus (for just a second) on who they are connected to, what their network is like and if there is any value-add for you there.
Being connected for the simple sake of being connected might have little value (unless you use these channels as a media platform to "get the word out there"), so you do need to scrutinize (to some degree) what you want your network to be. Like everyone else, different online social networks call for different levels of engagement, but more often than not, we tend to ask "why should I?" instead of "why wouldn't I?"
The good news is that if you add someone and they abuse that privilege, you can always boot them from your network.
And, they can do the same to you.
Any chance that this changes your attitude on how you conduct yourself online?