Because you can’t really have a social network without friends in some form or fashion, let’s get started with learning how to connect with people on Facebook. Many people find themselves invited to join Facebook by their friends who are already online. If this is the case for you, you already have some friend connections to get you started. If you’re brand-spanking new to Facebook, you’ll have to start finding friends from scratch.
Joining a Network
One of the easiest ways to start connecting on Facebook is to join a network. On Facebook, a network is an online community to which you belong. A network can be as simple as a geographical area, such as your region of the country or your city. Colleges and universities, high schools, companies, and organizations can all be networks on Facebook. When you join a network, anyone else on the network can view your profile (unless you change your profile’s privacy setting). By joining a network, your chances of encountering people you know increase dramatically, as well as opportunities for meeting new people who share the same interests.
Depending on the network, such as a school or workplace, you may be required to have a working email address through the organization in order to sign up on their network. If you join a regional or city network, Facebook allows you to join only one area at a time. You cannot be a part of both the Chicago network and the New York City network, for example.
To join a network, follow these steps:
- Click the Settings link on the blue navigation bar; then click Account Settings.
From the My Account page, click the Networks tab. Facebook displays any networks you’ve joined listed on the left and a field on the right for joining more, as shown in Figure 3.1.
Figure 3.1 Use the Networks tab on the My Account page to join networks.
Under the Join a Network area, click in the Network name box and start typing the workplace, city, region, or school name.
If Facebook recognizes the entry, it displays a list of possible matches. Click one to join. If there are requirements for joining the network, Facebook alerts you.
After you join a network, it’s added to the list on the Networks tab. You can use the associated links to change your network region or leave the network entirely if you no longer want to participate.
Looking Up Friends
It’s easy to look up people on Facebook and establish online connections. For example, if you want to find an old high school chum or look to see if a family member has a profile on the site, you can use the Facebook tools to perform a search. As of this writing, Facebook is revamping its search tools, so the steps and screens you see on your browser window may vary from what you see here. The principles, however, remain the same. You can search for friends to your heart’s content using features found on the Friends page, shown in Figure 3.2. Simply click the Friends link in the blue navigation bar at the top of the page to navigate to the page. You can also hover your mouse pointer over the Friends link in the navigation bar and directly click Find Friends to get to the page. The Friends page opens to the Find Friends tools automatically, however, you can always click the Find Friends link to view the tools again later.
Figure 3.2 Use the Friends page to locate friends on Facebook or through your email account.
The Find Friends page is all set up to help you locate friends through your email account, offer friend suggestions if you already have some friends, or search for people by name. The top portion of the page focuses on finding friends based on your email client’s address book or contacts list. In other words, Facebook checks your email address book against users’ email addresses on the site and tells you about any matches. You’ll have to okay access to your email client to perform this task.
The middle portion of the page lists suggestions based on people you’ve already added to your list. These are typically friends of friends. You can click the Add as Friend link beneath a name to invite them to be your friend. This area of the page also lists pages you can become fans of, if interested, that your friends are already supporting.
The bottom portion of the page, shown in Figure 3.3, displays a search tool you can use to look for specific names on Facebook. There’s also a tool for looking for connections via your instant message (IM) names.
Figure 3.3 You can use the Search for People feature to look for people you know on Facebook.
To search for someone on Facebook, just click in the text box under the Search for People area of the page and type in a name; then click the Search button or press the Enter or Return key. Facebook displays a results page with any matches, similar to Figure 3.4. Depending on how common the name is, you may have to scroll through and view each match to determine if it’s the right person or not. If in doubt, you can always send an email message inquiring whether it’s the person you think you know or not using the Send a Message link.
Figure 3.4 When you conduct a search, Facebook displays a results page with possible matches. It’s up to you to figure out who exactly you’re looking for.
From the results page, you can click the Profile Search link at the top and conduct a more detailed search based on profile information. If you click the Friend Finder link, the same Friends page information opens again as shown in Figure 3.2.
You can also conduct a search for someone using the Search field at the top of the Facebook page on the blue navigation bar.
When you do finally find a friend on Facebook, you can send him or her a friend request by clicking the Add as Friend link. When you click the link, a box pops up, shown in Figure 3.5. Facebook lets you know that the person will have to confirm you as his or her friend first. You can use the box to add a personal message to the request. You can also choose to categorize the friend if you have organized your friends into lists (learn more about this later in the chapter).
Figure 3.5 You have the option of sending a personal message along with your friend request.
Responding to Friends Who Find You
While you’re busy inviting people to be your friend, don’t forget to look for friend requests from other people. When you’re the lucky recipient of an invitation from another Facebook user, it appears on your Home page as a friend request up in the requests area. Facebook also alerts you with an email if you’ve turned on the requests feature. In the top-right corner of the Home page, shown in Figure 3.6, Facebook lists any notifications you have waiting to deal with, such as friend requests or event invitations.
Figure 3.6 Remember to check your requests area for requests and invitations.
Click the friend requests link to open the Requests page, shown in Figure 3.7, which lists all kinds of requests, including invitations for joining groups, causes, responding to party invites, game challenges, and more.
Figure 3.7 The Requests page keeps a running list of all your requests, including friend requests.
If you’re having trouble remembering who the person is or how you might know him, you can click his picture to view his profile first, and then decide to add him as a friend or not. You can also click the mutual friends link and learn which mutual friends you have in common. If you’re still having trouble figuring out who the person is, you can click the Send Message link and fire off an email message—perhaps to diplomatically authenticate that it’s the person you think it is, or maybe just to say hello.
If you’ve organized your friends into lists (which is covered in the next section), you can choose to categorize the person to a particular list using the Add to list pop-up menu before you actually confirm him as a friend.
If you decide you’d rather not befriend the person on Facebook, you can click the Ignore link. This makes the request disappear without approval.
To process a friend request and make it official, you can simply click the Confirm link next to the person’s picture, as shown in Figure 3.7. Facebook immediately adds the person to your friends list and gives you options for suggesting new friends, adding details about the friend, or writing on the person’s wall, as shown in Figure 3.8.
Figure 3.8 Facebook displays this information immediately after you confirm a friend request.