Should you friend your boss on Facebook?

You have hundreds of Facebook friends, why not add your manager to that list? Here’s why you should think twice before sending that request.

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Picture this: You’re a few weeks into your internship and you’re starting to feel a personal connection to your team. You’ve found a few perfect commute-length podcasts, and the front desk attendants welcome you by name. You’re even starting to connect with your manager on a more personal level, which is great.

That is, until your manager starts talking about her plans to climb a nearby mountain this weekend — which is definitely on your bucket list. She mentions that she’ll be live-streaming on Facebook from the summit. Do you add her as a friend? Is following her Snapchat story too personal? What’s the protocol when it comes to connecting with your manager on social media? With your internship experience potentially connected to your future job — and earnings — what should you do? 

Proceed with caution

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and especially Snapchat are personal channels that may be best kept private. According to the Huffington Post, 81% of people surveyed agree that Facebook friending your boss may not be the best idea. Why? Think about your friends tagging you in photos you don’t want your boss to see, or your Grandma congratulating you in advance for acing an interview at a competing company.

While it’s much more acceptable to friend coworkers (that same Huffington Post article cited that 55% of people surveyed think this is OK), it’s important to keep your content in check. Anything posted on the sites can indirectly get back to your boss, human resources, or your company’s clients.

Hit follow

LinkedIn is a professional social platform. Don’t hesitate to connect with your manager first, as long as your profile is complete and current. According to a 2016 report from LinkedIn, more than 39 million students and recent graduates use the network to amplify their professional portfolios. Stand out by including a profile picture — which makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed — and a list of skills. An up-to-date profile will impress your manager and might give him or her more incentive to endorse the skills you’ve learned while interning with them.

The bottom line

If you’re still unsure whether or not to follow your boss on social media, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will you benefit professionally from this connection in the coming years?
  2. Does this platform broadcast your image in a professional, positive light?
  3. Is your manager connected to any other coworkers via this channel?

If you’ve decided to friend your manager, it’s important to stay engaged. If he or she post a picture of their daughter’s dance recital that they mentioned to you, or if they post a picture of finishing their first marathon, it can build rapport to “like” these photos or comment a quick “congrats!”

Whether you decide to connect or stay private, social media should always take the back seat to connecting with your manager in person. Try striking up a conversation, ask about weekend plans, and compliment a new haircut in person (instead of on Facebook).