Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Social Media Etiquette: A salad with a side of iPhone

How many times you were annoyed with someone on your company who would in your presence text, email and/or do whatever you do on the mobile devices? I, personally, cannot tolerate someone in my company using mobile devices (or any of those cool gadgets – tablets and such) because I believe that’s the time for face-to-face communication and enjoying each other’s company.
I would care less for someone who is not part of my company but is sharing the same space with me use their devices, although – you’d agree with me – it’s rather rude, especially if the devices make a notice.
It’s especially rude, if another person who is using a device in front of you – is your partner and/or a family member. This is away crossing the line of the basic etiquette.

And apparently I am not alone. Moreover, I’m not alone in believing that there should be a school to teach the etiquette. Yes, literally – a school! And such, actually, does exist!
The Protocol School of Washington provides certified professional etiquette and protocol training for people who cannot put down their blackberries, iPhones, iPads and the likes when they are in the presence of a company.
According to Reuters – we – the “evil residents-who-are-obsessed-with-mobile-gadgets” in USA – need such training, because in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, The Protocol Department dictates stashing your digital device during face-to-face conversations and when making large, and small, business presentations, because it's considered rude and shows disinterest to do otherwise. I'm sure it's the same deal in Japan...
Yet, when we travel in the U.S. and to other countries (for business and pleasure), mobile devices stay firmly in-hand, not just for checking email or headlines but to visit social networking sites. We even do it in the most unlikely places possible.
It's important when courting international partners to realize that potential allies will surf the net for every nugget of information they can find on you and your company.
According to Twitter, more than 60 percent of users are from outside the U.S., while more than 70 percent of Facebook users reside outside the U.S. Both companies are incorporating more languages to help boost usage in low-growth regions.
This has resulted in explosive growth - more than 4,300 percent in Taiwan, more than 3,800 percent in Brazil, and more than 2,900 percent in Thailand. And that's just the past two years!
This brings me to today's crucial mandate.
Be vigilant about maintaining a clean virtual image, especially if, your business crosses international borders.

Yes, there's LinkedIn and other professional sites, but don't fool yourself. Facebook is not personal or private and it will be viewed and used by others to form an opinion about you. Even if you block particular individuals and/or organization from viewing your private settings – photos, wall updates, etc. With the magic of “re-facebooking” and “re-twitting”, your posts and photos could potentially get into the hands of the people you most likely want to see them.
Facebook privacy settings are minimal and need to be manually set for 'high privacy'. Remember, a seemingly harmless image in your personal life can undo business opportunities in countries where drinking and skimpy cloths are taboo.
Here are the TIPS to keep a positive profile:
  • The best way to avoid any digital mis-steps is to take a proactive approach to networking - and all things business related - by asking business contacts to connect with you on a business platform like your web site or LinkedIn, where you should always have a recent 'professional photo' of yourself.
  • If a business associate that you don't have a personal relationship with invites you to join their personal network, direct them to your business platform.
  • To avoid offending them, explain that you check your business platform (i.e., LinkedIn, web site) more frequently.
  • In addition to profile management, be mindful of any post you toss into the blogosphere, the Twittersphere, YouTube, MySpace or any other Newbie Digital Fare. Things can go awry if you are either inappropriate or too quick on the trigger.
  • If you wouldn't print out the message or duplicate the photo or post the video under your own name and distribute it to every business contact you can think of, don't post it, tweet it, or upload it.

And if you feel like the only incentive to keep you away from using your devices is of a financial nature then go no further. Now you can get at certain resorts and hotels discounts for NOT using your devices! Think how much you’d save, only if you could put away your laptop and/or iPhone away for vacation – isn’t it ironic to tell one to do so on vacation anyway? Now you get incentives for it!
And if you are smart about it all the way – you’ll have a great job, respect from everyone around, like friends, family and colleagues and inexpensive vacations.

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