Social Networking Etiquette? We don’t need no stinking rules….

Okay, you are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other sites, or even just one of those but what are some basic guidelines to follow for using one of those social sites. Let’s face it people only use social networks for a couple of reasons. 1) You are keeping in touch with friends and family or 2) you are networking. Many of us may even use it for both those reasons. Yet many people do not think about what they do online can help, hurt, or even potentially destroy their reputation. The company you keep on social media says a lot about the person you are, so let us look at some guidelines for using the social media that you are one.

Decide on your friend strategy (the earlier the better)

Full disclosure here I was not always the best with this one. I work with a wise lady who said, “one day we should be friends on Facebook, but not until one of us quits, retires, or is fired.” I though well that is curious, so like a good student I wanted to know why. It was simple. If you are going to use a site determine if it is going to be professional or personal. If personal well keep it personal, and if you wouldn’t want your boss to see it well best to not have them try to join your personal site. If you are stuck in the tricky situation of your coworker or boss want to join (how do you tell your boss no) you can always say hey join my LinkedIn page, and explain that the other is for close personnel friends and family. If that doesn’t suit your needs well friend them give them a few days and then de-friend them and if they ask plead ignorance.

Clean up those photos and watch who or what you follow

This one feels like a no brainier, but I love to see people trying to get a job and a simple search of their Facebook page shows then doing keg stands or some other unscrupulous act. It just means sorry I’ll find someone else. Remember your profiles are and extension of who you are, or at least that is how people will see you (first impression and all). Those sites and groups you like that are controversial do not expect to win over any friends or network to well with those on there either (professional people tend to keep that stuff personal). Maybe this is another time to test out the mom test and see if she would approve of your social networking site and if not you have some work to do.

Respect people and never post in anger

If you cannot get away with saying it face to face then do not think that you can get away with it online either (people are not that hard to track down). Posting should be done just like writing a letter if you are upset. Write it walk away, come back, trash it, and then write it again, walk away, reread it, and then send. I know I added an extra step but with a letter you have to put it in the mail box and you still have time to retrieve it (hopefully if needed). When the information goes online it is out there forever… Yes, forever..

Okay so we have done all the above  so we have a neat and presentable personal and hopefully a professional page as well and now you want to try and network (you are social right?) and meet some new people maybe open some doors who knows what can happen. Well what do you do?

First and foremost do not go out asking for jobs. People are just going to trash your message and most likely de-friend you for it and well do you think asking someone for a job out of the blue got a person a job anyway? Next never recommend strangers. I think the golden rule here is if you have never been to their house, or them to yours, you do not know them that well. Friends hang out and know a good bit about each other. I have some coworkers I would recommend on the basis that I have known them for nearly a decade but I can assure you that group is pretty small and the longer I work the smaller the group gets. Your reputation is riding on how well they do. If you recommend someone who is a terrible employee it will look bad on them, but hey you recommended them so do not think the other person has forgotten about your recommendation.

In reality you build friends online like you would offline. You have to build a relationship and talk to people. Do not bombard them with messages, information, or newsletters (only send newsletters if they ask). Find a common bond between you and work from there, but be realistic Lady Gaga does not really want to be your close personal friend nor do half the CEOs of fortune 500 companies (unless you know most of them, then maybe).

What do you think; did I miss any social media etiquette faux pas? Have an example of a faux pas for us.

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