Facebook may be where you catch up with pals, but a new survey by The Creative Group confirms it’s increasingly a place for business. Nearly half (46%) of executives interviewed said they currently use Facebook for professional purposes. In fact, even more respondents – 56% – expect to take advantage of this social network in the next three years.

The Creative Group offers five ideas for maximinizing social networks to boost your career:

* Divide and conquer. Not everyone in your social network needs to know about your Friday dinner plans or musings on the latest blockbuster movie. Segment your friend lists so professional contacts aren’t inundated with updates they wouldn’t want to – or shouldn’t – see. Check your privacy settings to control who has access to what information.

* Be a guru. Share nuggests of useful information with business contacts, and offer advice when they ask for recommendations or ideas.

* Give and you shall receive. Be generous with contacts by offering to make introductions or sharing useful information they post with your own network.

* Use photo features. Even if you maintain a personal website or digital portfolio, you can provide your online contacts with a snapshot of your latest professional project. Creating albums on Flickr or Facebook, or using Twitpic or similar photo-sharing tools, is an easy way to visuallly show potential clients career accomplishments or showcase new skills.

* Resist the urge to rant. Never say anything disparaging about a current or former company or client, co-workers, or other business contacts. You never know who might see your comments and forward them on.

For more information on The Creative Group, visit www.creativegroup.com.  For additional etiquette tips on using social networking sites, download Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age, at www.roberthalf.us/businessetiquette.