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etiquette-753284(Read time = 3-4 minutes) Please, someone tell me (send me the link, even better) to the Emily who’s Post(ing) about 2.0 etiquette for the majority of us 1.0’ers! Over Starbucks and a midday break, I was struck by the number of Bluetooths and iPhones juxtaposed with patrons holding the “old-media” WSJ two-sheets wide while sipping their cup ‘o Joe. For those of us outside the boundaries of Silicon Valley (or Silicon Mountain or Silicon Triangles), the intrusion of social media is poised to add one more confusing layer to an already crowded business day of meetings, emails, conference calls, and power point presentations.

Striking a workable balance while (first) learning (then) gleaning value from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg and Del.ic.ious, et. Al. looms large (and heck, since I’m mostly living/working outside all those “silicon somethings”, I don’t even know what I don’t know…).  Some are just discovering Blackberries and IM; now there’s bosses who want to “friend” us on Facebook… 

Nine Steps to Transition  to Digital Etiquette

1.  Whatever the forum (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), don’t add comments unless you are advancing the conversation.  The old adage applies: if you can’t say something meaningful, listen and stay quiet.

 2.  Do I have to Respond? Of course not, no.  Many times, the ping is just a “virtual smile” passing in the hallway.  You have to learn to recognize the difference and respond when it’s obvious that you’re being asked a question.  Become a frequent user of the “ignore button”.

 3.  It’s ok to follow your boss, and follow your boss’s boss.  “Following” (another way of saying link to, friend…) is a way to stay informed and suck up at the same time.  Just keep in mind if they follow you back, your comments will be seen/read.

 4.  Loose the earpiece.  Bluetooth headsets are so conspicuously self-indulgent, at least when you’re not really talking/on a conversation.  It’s so “look at me”, and so yesterday.

 5.  You can never have too many friends (Facebook) or too many followers (Twitter).  Louis Gray, a silicon valley bleeding edge blogger says it best (paraphrasing):  “…never know who you’ll meet, who has value…” why risk limiting your opportunity for a relationship…”

 6.  It’s ok to email during meetings and/or text during conversations – but only if you’re being inclusive and adding content and/or someone to the session that otherwise couldn’t attend.  Hitting Fandango or StubHub for weekend tickets is not acceptable.

 7.  Run a Twitter client in your desktop background.  Occasionally, you’ll discover a real gem and it’s always more fun than looking at any of Microsoft’s wallpaper choices.

 8.  Once you’re wired, pay attention to your personal space (and that of others).  The combination of ringtones, call alerts, blinking Bluetooth connections and too public cell phone conversations make you a walking annoyance.  Strive to manage your profile small.

 9.  Finally, once you ARE wired and feeling like you’ve adapted to/joined 2.0 in all its glory – step back and evaluate yourself for an Xtreme Digital Makeover.  Seriously,  do you really want prospective employers the photos that your kid tagged to you w/out thinking or asking.   Nothing wrong with a little “brand tuning” at the personal level.

The workplace is always evolving, 2.0 is just the latest intrusion.  What will be most interesting to observe in the next few years will be Gen Y’ers coming of business-hire age.  They’ve known nothing but 24/7 connectivity, and as social scientists know – habits learned are habits difficult to break.  Should be an interesting clash  as today’s mid-managers begin assimilation to the always-on workplace as the norm, not the exception.   

The Borg had it right… resistance will be futile.



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