Social networking isn’t just a part of one’s personal life, it impacts your business life as well. Businesses are deep into the social networking world and individuals need to take care with how their personal social networking can affect them at work. As I sat down to write this column I realized that The Emily Post Institute is a perfect example of how businesses are diving headlong into the social networking world—we have a Twitter account, a Facebook page; we’re on Pinterest and LinkedIn and Instagram; we have a YouTube channel (Emily Post Productions) and a weekly podcast (Awesome Etiquette). So many outlets, so many audiences, so many ways to communicate with the world-at-large.
While companies have legitimate social networking needs which you may be part of fulfilling, as you take part in the social networking world here are five tips to help you prevent your personal online efforts from negatively affecting you at work.
1. Think before you post. That moment’s hesitation before hitting the submit button could save you from a world of trouble. Reread the post you are about to make or the comment that you think is so very clever. What you think of as clever may be perceived by others as rude.
2. Speak to your entire audience. It’s a common fallacy to think that your post will only be seen by a few friends. However, the truth is you can’t prevent others from sharing or reposting it. In addition, as your network includes more people over time, their numbers will increase the chances for your posts and comments to be reposted.
3. Don’t share overly personal information. The personal details of your life—finances, health, family issues, your love life—are best communicated privately.
4. Be positive. It’s too easy to think you are anonymous or immune to repercussions for items you post or comments you make. Many people feel a false sense of safety and privacy because electronic communications seem to be protected by an electronic brick wall. Since they can’t see the people they are communicating with, they assume they are communicating privately. The result is they write or say things they would never say if they were face to face with the person or persons they are addressing. However badly your day is going, don’t be tempted to gripe, vent, rant, or complain online.
5. Avoid “social-not-working.” That means, avoid being online for personal reasons while you are at work. It may seem that you won’t get caught, but in reality your colleagues know what you are doing and so does your boss, especially when your work isn’t completed on time.
If you have a business etiquette question, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear more Emily Post etiquette advice on the Awesome Etiquette podcast featuring Lizzie Post and Dan Post Senning. Listen and subscribe at infiniteguest.org.
Peter Post’s newest book, The Unwritten Rules of Golf, Morrow, is available at emilypost.com.
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled etiquette issues in The Boston Sunday Globe’s weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business” and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book “Essential Manners For Men” was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of “Essential Manners for Couples,” “Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf,” and co-author of “A Wedding Like No Other.” Post is Emily Post’s great-grandson. His media appearances include “CBS Sunday Morning,” CBS’s “The Early Show,” NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and “Fox News.” Follow Post: @PeterLPost.