One-minute mentor: Should my employee friend me?

September 14, 2010: 3:00 AM ET

By Allison Hemming President, the Hired Guns, a digital talent agency

It's complicated.
A Facebook friend request from one of your employees is a well-meant but not always welcome surprise. Should you be nice and just hit accept? Before you do, ponder the implications.

Don't mix gene pools.
Before accepting requests, decide whether Facebook is a personal branding tool or a place to connect with friends. If it's the latter, definitely opt out.

Play hard to get.
Remember, you're a boss, not a peer, so you can get away with being aloof. If you receive an employee's friend request, try simply not responding. That might well be the end of it.

"It's not you, it's me"
is a great answer if the employee tracks you down and asks why you didn't respond. Explain that you keep a boundary between work and home. And tell him that you want him to enjoy the world without Big Brother watching.

I'm in a long-term relationship.
That should be your goal if you decide to go ahead. So only "accept" if it is someone with whom you want a lasting link. Just make sure you both agree: Whatever happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook.

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