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Befriending Team Members on Facebook – Good Idea or Bad?

Social networking is a wonderful tool to build your business, but should direct sales leaders befriend their team members?

To befriend or not to befriend, that is that question.   The answer is: It depends. This isn’t really a Yes or No question.   Continue reading for perhaps a new sense of enlightenment and possible outcomes. Then you decide if it’s a good idea for you to befriend your team members.

I recently heard a self proclaimed expert encourage leaders to befriend their team members, and her reasoning was so that you could get to know what is going on in the lives of her downline.   That is certainly one opinion.

I’m sure there are a few fans here of the TV sitcom, The Office. I am reminded of the episode when Jim was having a party at his apartment, invited all his co-workers, except his boss, Michael. He didn’t want the boss at the party for a variety of reasons, but mainly… because he was the boss.

Those who work outside the home, are you good friends with your boss? What about your boss’s boss?   Does this person regularly share photos of grandma’s birthday party or of himself at the ballgame? Does she share with you her frustrations, her personal highs and lows?   Perhaps for some of you, this is true.   Though for many others, you do not socialize with the boss on your off time.

Some will argue that this is direct sales and it works a little differently than a “real job.”   And for those who treat their direct sales business as more of a hobby or social network that statement above is absolutely true.   Yet for those who run their business like a business, then direct sales absolutely is a real job.

I can hear some of you right now saying that being a direct sales leader is not the same as being a boss.   I will give you that – in that independent consultants are not employees, so there is no boss and employee relationship.   Though if you are a leader within the company or within your downline you still should behave like one.

If you have a dedicated Fan page for your business, then I’d encourage you to get as many fans as possible.   Now whether it is a good idea to have a dedicated Facebook page for your direct sales business, is a subject for another post.   For now, I’m just saying if you have Suzy’s XYZ Independent Consultant Fan Page, I wouldn’t attempt to restrict who joins.

However for now, I am not referring to a Fan page, but rather to your personal Facebook page.   I have strong feelings about how much personal information you should choose to share if you’re also trying to market your business on the same page, but again that’s another post.

Back to the focus of today – is it a good idea to befriend downline members on your personal Facebook page? Two schools of thought:

#1 Yes, good idea. Why? Because we’re all one big happy family and I want to share my life with those on my team and I want them to get to know me better.   I may be their leader but I’m a person first and they should get to see the good, the bad and the ugly about me.  Everyone on my team is a new friend and we’re just like sisters.

Plus I want to see what they’re up to, and I want them to see how I market my business. It’s just a great idea.

#2 No, bad idea. Why? Because if you’re truly running your business like a business, and if you are a leader, especially if you have a large organization, then you need to be able to have some time when you’re not “˜on the clock.’   Just because you may work out of your home, doesn’t mean you need to be accessible to your downline 24/7.   If you’re on Facebook, and if you opt to befriend your downline, they can hit you up on chat and distract you from what you were doing while you are “˜on your own time.’

Maybe your friend list on Facebook truly is just that – friends.   Maybe you want to be a little silly or crass or bitch about something that happened “¦ to your friends.   What if you were to post something like “kickin’ back with a glass of Merlot and watching TV.”   Certainly nothing wrong with that, but what about the consultant who sees that then thinks, “˜here I am out busting my butt, and she’s just on easy street making all this money off of ME?”   Of course leaders know that is not even close to reality, but that is certainly a perception truly exists out there.

A good leader knows that you need to have office hours and you need to make sure to take care of yourself and have down time, so that you can be at your best when you are working your business. It’s not about not being authentic, but rather having some time when you can just be yourself and don’t feel that you always have a set a good example. It’s about being able to be real and authentic on Facebook with your true friends, rather than with all of your business associates.

I certainly can’t tell you what is right for you.   I also can’t tell you if running your business as a business or running your business as a family or social affair is the right thing for you. Only you know what is best for you.

One thing I would caution you, however is that if you are a leader who opts to have your downline in your friends group on your personal Facebook page, I would encourage you to wait for your downline to request to be friends with you. If you request to be friends with team members, it may put them in an awkward position if they didn’t particularly want you as their Facebook friend.

A teacher buddy was telling a story of how his boss, the principal of the school, requested to be his Facebook friend.   The teacher preferred to keep his personal life separate from his work life and wasn’t sure how to handle the request.   If he ignored it, it may not reflect kindly on him.   If he accepted it, then he felt like he couldn’t really be true to himself knowing the boss was “˜in the room.’

Let team members initiate the friend request.  Then as the leader, you decide if you will confirm or ignore it.

About the Author: Laurie Ayers is a WAHM from Michigan and a Superstar Director with Scentsy Wickless Candles. She enjoys helping others start and maintain a candle business. You can find Laurie at http://la.Scentsy.us or http://www.ThrivingCandleBusiness.com

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