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NEW YORK (MainStreet)—An OfficeTeam survey found that 62% of senior managers are uncomfortable being friended on Facebook by the employees they supervise, and 57% were uncomfortable being friended by clients or vendors.

"People have different comfort levels when it comes to social media, so it's best not to blanket colleagues with friend requests," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Along with being selective about who you ask to connect with online, you should always post prudently. You don't want to share information that could reflect poorly on you."

The study also found that nearly 50% of people prefer not to connect with co-workers on Facebook at all.

"I wouldn't initiate contact with a supervisor without some discussion in advance," said Reynol Junco, a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. "It's a boundary in the American workplace that needs to be respected. Sharing more personal information can sometimes backfire in a work environment so too much information--TMI--rules definitely apply."

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Don't give up networking online altogether. In some cases, there can be benefits to connecting with co-workers on Facebook.

"It's important for people to become socialized to their workplace, make connections and learn the culture," said Junco. "Ultimately, a work environment functions best when people can collaborate and get along well. Using Facebook for connecting and social information seeking can help people do that."

TMI rules on Facebook include:

  • 1. Don't call in sick then post photos of yourself at the beach. "That could be detrimental to your relationship with your supervisor and co-workers," Junco said.
  • 2. A Facebook page is expected in certain professional environments. Create an "Ideal Self" profile in case employers ask to view it.
  • 3. Follow the leader. Let your boss or those more senior than you make the first move. Proactively sending a friend request could create an awkward situation.
  • 4. Consider connecting with supervisors on Linkedin as an alternative to Facebook. "Linkedin is very professional while Facebook is intended to be more personal," said Junco
  • 5. Take advantage of Facebook's blocking and restricted settings. You aren't obligated to share social media updates with everyone in the office. "If you're concerned about slighting subordinates by turning down invites, you can accept friend requests but use privacy settings and lists to control who can view certain content," said Hosking.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet