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Net-iquette you need to know

We can all agree that, for the most part, advancement in technology is a good thing. It’s pretty neat to have the world at our fingertips and so far the robots have been minding their own business. While we love the new toys, our manners while using them could use some upgrading. Friends and family will usually give you a pass for a digital faux pas but your boss or a client may not be so forgiving.

Sometimes it’s just easier to fire off a text. But are there rules we should follow when it comes to our workmates or clients?

Only send a work-related text if you have established this type of communication with the receiver already. You don’t want text to be your first form of communication with a colleague or client. If you have established that text is an appropriate form of communication, then remember to keep it as professional as possible. Since text messaging signals a form of urgency, you want to ensure that you only send one if it is absolutely necessary. If it can be sent in an email, then send it in an email. Further, since texts alert the receiver right away, you want to try and send them only between work hours and not late at night—unless absolutely necessary. And lastly, keep them short and not too technical. There’s always opportunities for miscommunication with messaging systems.

How can we make a good impression when leaving voicemail?

Voicemails are quickly losing in popularity—and understandably so. Leaving voicemails can compromise privacy and take the receiver longer to retrieve. When leaving a voicemail, it’s important to keep it short and simple. Since others could hear the content of your message, you may only want to let the person know you have called, and only mention the reason for your call if the content is not sensitive.

There’s no doubt a hand-written card or note is special but are there ways we can make a virtual thank you feel more genuine?

Absolutely! Especially since busy schedules can make handwritten notes a little more difficult to send, you want to make sure that you make your virtual thank-you’s feel genuine. One way to do this is to reference something specific to show that you noticed the details. For example, if someone invited you to their home for dinner, you may want to reference a specific dish that you really enjoyed, or notice where extra effort was put forth such as with the table settings or wine selection. Noting details makes the person you are thanking feel like you really appreciated their efforts.

What about emojis? Are they appropriate for work-related communication?

You want to create a professional image of yourself, both in and outside of the office. I always recommend that you keep every work-related relationship on a very professional note to establish your reputation. If you end up developing friendships with your colleagues, then absolutely feel free to have casual communication, especially when outside of the office. However, when communicating at work about work-related material, it’s best to keep emojis out of the equation! Especially since most work-related communication can be later retrieved.

Online meetings are increasingly common. How can we keep them professional?

You want to ensure that you spend more time on setting up for a virtual meeting than you would for a traditional face-to-face one. The reason for this is because there are more opportunities for hiccups with the use of technology. Make sure your connection is strong, test out whichever communication system you are using, and ensure you are in a quiet space. You wouldn’t want to conduct a video or phone conference in an open office layout. Second, you want to make sure that you are giving your undivided attention. Whether an individual is watching you video conferencing or listening to you via phone, the focus is on you! Be alert and ready as it will be easy to notice if you are distracted. Lastly, in the case of video conferencing, ensure that your outfit is not too “busy” so that the focus can remain on the content of the call, instead of on over-the-top jewelry and accessories for example. Also, for those of us who often use our hands when talking, ensure that you keep body movements simple, as many systems have a slight delay. This also goes for conference calls, make sure to pause after speaking to give the other person a chance to speak.