As the use of social media networking tools continues to grow in popularity, understanding the netiquette do’s and don’ts of online communication is critical to your success. A blended word for “network etiquette”, Wikipedia defines netiquette as “a set of social conventions that facilitate interaction over networks, ranging from the internet and mailing lists to blogs and forums”.
Whether you are posting in LinkedIn groups, talking to friends on Facebook, participating in blogs or tweeting on Twitter, you need to understand that netiquette covers both common courtesy online and the informal “rules of the road” of cyberspace. In this world, you must be even more conscious of how and what you are saying; otherwise you run the risk of offending people who not only won’t take it kindly, but they will vigorously pass on their displeasure to everyone they know.
Here are my 3 top tips for avoiding online communication disaster:
Tip #1: Don’t sell.
This philosophy may seem counterintuitive if you believe that using online tools is just a cheap way to market and sell what you have to offer to a large number of people. Wrong! Nothing turns people off faster than having some “slick Willy” enter the scene, who within minutes is hawking their latest product or service. If this is the approach you take, be prepared for a community smack down that will damage your reputation.
Tip #2: Give to receive.
People will always want to do business with people they know, like and trust. That takes time! Throwing up a LinkedIn profile today will NOT mean a sale tomorrow, so learn to be patient. You must first build a relationship with others in the community by giving more than you receive. Share information; make connections, and as people get to know you, they will naturally want to know more about what you have to offer.
Tip #3: Be human.
While technology is an amazing enabler, people are still on the other side. Think carefully about what you say and do. It’s certainly OK to be yourself and share your opinions, but always treat others with courtesy and respect. If you wouldn’t say it “to their face” then absolutely do not say it online. If you are angry or annoyed then take a breath before you type those words and push send. As many have learned the hard way – what’s said on the internet definitely stays on the internet!