We can’t blame Emily Post for not realizing the future of our digital world. While etiquette in her world was widely understood as the classic hand-written thank-you note, today that is interchanged with a hastily typed email. And a face to face meeting? Easily replaced with Skype. However, virtual manners are just as important as real manners. Unfortunately, some of us may have missed the cue.
There is no one size fits all rule when it comes to social media etiquette. However, before you fire off a cannon of friend requests, consider what your intentions are with the connection. If you’re fishing for job, trying to nurture a potential professional relationship or simply interested in getting to know the other party better, there are several important tips to keep in mind when crafting your first key impression.
Mr. Unimportant, meet Mrs. Important: If you haven’t worked with, eaten with, or shared a cup of coffee with the other person, your value as a connection has yet to be determined. If you attempt to add them, there is a high possibility your request will go to the grave yard of unanswered friend requests past. Instead, find something you have in common. Lo and behold, social media already finds your mutual friends and the only finger you have to lift is to tap a button. Consider having one of your mutual friends make an introduction for you. Having an acquaintance in common provides a level of ease for everyone involved on the introduction front.
Use the magic word, please: The beauty of this six letter word is that it creates movement in not only the real world but also the digital. Sending a personalized connection request with a specific “ask” or action item for your contact is always a good idea. It is much more likely to peek curiosity. After all, who can say no to fine-tuned manners? The relationship has the potential to become mutually beneficial if you give a general idea of why the connection attempt is being made. Try not to send the standard auto-filled message, please.
Don’t make friends with strangers: Mom was really onto something here, wasn’t she? We wouldn’t give our personal contact information to a stranger on the phone, so why are we willing to give it to a stranger online? A question to consider before adding or accepting a request, even from someone who appears professional, is ‘Am I sharing too much information with someone I don’t know?’ Sometimes the medium truly is the message. The convenience of social media doesn’t mean that it is the best way to get to know someone. Consider a method of communication that will offer a sensitivity and comfort to everyone involved.
It’s the thought that counts: A manners mantra that always reminds us that however imperfect or insignificant the act may be, someone will appreciate it. What is the common denominator of all these rules for virtual connecting? These interactions can affect how people view you in the real world. You become the virtual identity that you create for yourself. What if your first impression was your only impression?
Social graces are not only intended for a tangible world. Remember to mind your manners, friends. It seems that playing nice could make all the difference. Please and thank you.