Facebook: 5 people never to friend from work

How many co-workers are you connected to on Facebook? A new survey by Millennial Branding found that the average Gen Y employee is connected to 16 office-mates on the popular social networking site. The interesting part? Only 36 percent officially listed their place of employment, while 80 percent noted where they had gone to school. So while this group appears to be trying to keep their personal and professional worlds separate, they're still merging them by connecting to colleagues.

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There are a slew of ways that Facebook can get you fired, and connecting to the wrong people in your office is one of the easiest ones. Here are five people you should never friend:

Your boss

Friending your boss on Facebook might seem like a good way to get close to your manager, but in this case it may be too close for comfort. "If you friend your boss on Facebook, and then complain about them or share something too personal, they might lose trust in you, not take you seriously and potentially replace you," notes branding expert Dan Schawbel, CEO of Millennial Branding.

Your HR rep

Friending your human resources representative comes with many of the same issues as friending your boss. "If you friend your HR representative on Facebook, and then reveal a company secret or criticize your boss, then they will have more than enough reason to report you to your manager," says Schawbel.

Your office "frenemy"

If you have a less-than-friendly office competitor, don't take the "keep your friends close and enemies closer" approach via Facebook. "Schadenfreude, envy, competitive juices and just plain score-keeping is a terrific reason for keeping frenemies out of your life and your FB commentary," says Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author of The Essentials of Fabulous: Because Whatever Doesn't Work Here Anymore. Someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart face-to-face will jump at any opportunity to find a skeleton online and bring it out of your closet.

A previous boss

If you leave a company on great terms with your boss, by all means, stay in touch -- on Linkedin, suggests David Couper, career coach and author of Outsider On The Inside: How To Create A Winning Career...Even When You Don't Fit In!. If you want to reconnect for professional reasons (for a reference or new job, for example) you'll be glad you kept the two zones of your life -- professional and personal -- absolutely separated.

Anyone you manage

You maintain a certain image in the office, and it's almost impossible to perfectly maintain that same image online, even with strict settings. "Again, you may disclose information that could be damaging. For example, if you show a picture of you enjoying the sights on a 'business trip' you may lose credibility with your team," says Couper.

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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