Mind your Ps and Qs – the importance of online etiquette

Just as manners are often the first thing to fly out the window during commuter hours, manners can sometimes get forgotten in the hectic pace of cyber-space. Here, Giles O’Halloran shares how good manners online have helped him.

Do you find that people don’t thank you when you hold the door open? Do people not say please? Have bad manners become best practice..? Whilst this might be the case in the physical and real world, etiquette can be the key to success in the online world. Remembering your manners, respecting others and creating interaction can help cement effective, productive and rewarding relationships. So here are some simple thoughts regarding this ….

Never be scared to ask but always be prepared to thank:

Whenever you interact with others online, never be scared to ask for help or guidance, and always be prepared to give back what you receive. Depending on the forum, the group, the individual or the audience, you will need to tailor your approach and communication style. Take into account who you are speaking to, respect individual preferences and be mindful of how you may come across. Ask nicely, be polite and always – always – thank people who offer to help. A simple two words – thank you – can really have an impact on your professional profile.

Expect to give more than you receive:

I always edit the famous JFK quote and say: “ask not what your network can do for you, but what you can do for your network.” I have found that the more I have attempted to help others, create wider connections, introduce people or organisations to one another, the more I have found people or organisations have been willing to help me. Always return a favour or offer to be of service to those who help you. Investing time in creating effective relationships will influence your credibility and how you are perceived as you develop your online profile.

Create contact connections and not collections:

If you are looking to approach individuals, employers, organisations etc., remember that it is not simply about collecting a contact, it is about connecting with them. The more you attempt to communicate, share information or share ideas and thoughts, or the more you try and help a person or organisation through developing a long term connection, the more likely they are to recommend or endorse you. We may live in a world where we expect instant response and gratification, but the more time you spend and invest in creating a relationship, the greater the returns in both the short and longer term.

Be honest and open:

If you are looking to connect with people online, be honest about why and avoid being ambiguous. You are more likely to receive an acceptance or response if you are honest and you personalise the messages you send. Explain to people why you are looking to connect or how you can perhaps help one another. This starts the ball rolling and a potential connection then at least understands your intention and will be warmer to the approach. It also sparks initial discussion in a less guarded and more open way.

Focus on soft skills and forget the hard sell:

Whenever you are looking to establish contact, take time to review the organisation or the individual’s profile. Try to understand their brand and their communication style in order to generate a more positive response. It is about using your emotional intelligence and empathising with who they are. Do not simply cut and paste messages, but be succinct and personalise your messages. The more soft, polite and personal your approach, the more likely you are to engage with your potential contact or a potential employer.

These simple rules have helped me build an extensive and productive profile, and network, to date.