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Should You Facebook Friend Your Co-Worker?

Some of us consider our co-workers to be our friends. Others do not.But whether a co-worker is a "Facebook Friend" could put them in an entirely different category.

How much of your personal business do you post and do you want your co-worker knowing it?

I think it's interesting that age factors into our Facebook habits when it comes to friending. A new study by Millennial Branding of over 50 million Facebook data points from Identified.com, uncovers that people in Gen-Y (ages 18 to 29) use the social network mostly for personal use, they have an average total friend count  of nearly 700 and they add an average of 16 co-workers each as 'friends'

Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, says that's where the trouble begins. With so many friends, people forget when the post that a co-worker might be reading what they're posting. And, because Gen Y stays in a job for an average of only two-years, putting Facebook friends into groups might not be enough: "strengths of relationships become stronger and weaker."

Gen-Y needs to be aware that what they publish online can come back to haunt them in the workplace," Schawbel cautions."How you present yourself visually and through your status updates can reflect on who you are...it can help you or hurt you."

One of my colleagues posted on Facebook last weekend that she got a tatoo in a VERY private place. I bet she really doesn't want a supervisor to read that status update!

Schawbeloffers these tips when sharing on Facebook:

  • Don’t reveal anything on Facebook that you don’t want to be the topic of office gossip the next morning.
  • Turn on your privacy settings and put your co-workers into a separate group that you can only send certain information to.
  • Have set rules ahead of time as to who you add and who you don’t.
  • Be mindful of your status updates and think twice before you post.
  • Clean up your online image and make it a bit more professional.
  • Never complain about a boss online.

Now, let's say you get a friend request from someone at work, what do you do? Here are Schawbel's tips for that scenario:

  • Analyze if its a true friend or someone that could in the future throw you under the bus. 
  • If you accept, tailor the privacy setting for how much you want that person to see. 
  • If you choose not to "add as friend" send a message letting them know you just use Facebook to connect with family.

You might be interest in reading this article: What does your Facebook profile reveal about you?

Readers, do you have co-workers and business contacts as your Facebook Friends? Do you share details of your personal life with them?