The Definitive Don’ts of Digital Etiquette

June 29, 2015

There is no escaping it. Advances in technology have surpassed our wildest expectations to the point where we are never offline and never out of reach. We are constantly sending and receiving messages in the digital world and this has created a brand new culture for how we communicate, both personally and professionally. Are you making any of these classic errors?   

 

#1 Email: The lifeblood of business

Email is a critical aspect of business. Even if you are living under a rock, at some point, you will have to crawl out and send an email. Unfortunately, many of us still make embarrassing blunders that leave the receiver with mixed feelings about our professional competency.

 

Always proofread your content and avoid using a casual tone for professional emails. Nothing says, “I don’t know what I’m doing” like an email filled with spelling errors and informal greetings. Also, avoid hitting “reply all.” Unless you are absolutely certain that everyone on the list wishes to follow your conversation with George on Floor 3, refrain from making this classic mistake. When in doubt, reply to the sender alone. No one wants to read 50 emails that don’t concern them.

 

Address your reader with the appropriate level of formality in a professional greeting. “Hi” and “Hello” are acceptable but never, “Hey” or, “Yo”. Most importantly, never spell the receiver’s name incorrectly- a simply unforgivable email faux pas.

 

#2 Cell phones: Scourge of the boardroom

Business is mobile and more employees are using email and Whatsapp on their cell phones because it’s faster than conducting business via corporate email. However, there are still rules for using your cell phone at work.

 

You’ve sent your client an email and they haven’t responded. It’s 17:30 but the work is urgent so it should be more than acceptable for you to send them a follow-up message via Whatsapp, right?

No. Abusing consumer applications to communicate for work after hours is not ok and the work can probably wait until tomorrow. Also bear in mind that, throughout most of recorded history, the world of business operated quite effectively without the use of cell phones.

A cell phone at the office can be useful but disruptive. Keep your phone on silent and don’t take it to meetings as it’s a temptation to text and post status updates. Remember when you took notes with a pen and paper? Well this is a good time to embrace that old practice. Keep your eyes on the speaker and stay engaged in the meeting because messing around on your phone sends poor signals about your level of commitment.

 

#3 Social media: Your online CV

If you haven’t heard already, Facebook and LinkedIn are among the first places employers look when they’re considering you for a job. Your presence on social media can now mean the difference between getting a second interview or missing out. Why? The simple reason is that, what you display to the world on social media helps recruiters and employers gain a clearer picture of who you are.

 

Rather than worrying about the photos you’ve posted of your wild weekend escapades, employers are looking at how you communicate about your activities and your personal opinions. This is because it says wonders about how you will deal and communicate with clients.

 

Never assume that your position is secure either. There’s a plethora of case studies about people all over the world have been fired for the content they shared on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. So before using your 140 characters to describe your “terrible” job and your “annoying” colleagues, count to 10 and get back to work.

 

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