Most execs don't want to 'friend' colleagues on Facebook: Survey

Tips to maintain a professional Facebook profile

Many executives are still wary of connecting with their bosses, colleagues and direct reports on Facebook, according to a new survey.

Staffing firm OfficeTeam found of 100 Canadian executives, 72 per cent are uncomfortable becoming Facebook friends with the employees they manage, 69 per cent are uncomfortable being "friended" by their bosses and 56 per cent are uncomfortable being friended by a colleague.

But there are steps people can take to maintain a professional image online when they do accept "friend requests," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam.

"The line between personal and professional has grown increasingly blurred as more people use social networking websites for business purposes," said Hosking. "Although not everyone is comfortable using sites like Facebook to connect with professional contacts, it's wise to be prepared for these types of requests."

Hosking advises employees on Facebook to be sure they are in compliance with their employer's social networking policy. They should then familiarize themselves with privacy settings and create different friend lists to control how — and with whom — information is shared.

"Individuals should classify their professional contacts into a 'work' list and limit what personal details this group can view," said Hosking.

Following are some tips to maintain a more professional image online:

• Un-tag embarrassing photos of yourself and change your privacy settings so photos are viewable only by your close friends.

• It might be best to accept friend requests from colleagues to avoid slighting them, even if you don't want to connect with them, so add them to a "work" list and adjust your privacy settings so you can effectively separate your job from your personal life.

• Think twice before proactively friending your boss. It could become awkward for both of you.

• If you have colleagues in your network and don't want them to see the groups you join, remember to adjust your application settings.

• Becoming a fan of pages on Facebook is visible to anyone who can view your profile, so you should avoid becoming a fan of any page you are uncomfortable sharing with co-workers or business contacts in your network.

• Stop and think for a moment before taking online quizzes and posting the results to your Facebook page — unless you want professional contacts to know which Gilligan's Island character you most resemble.

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