Social Media Protocol — The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I was on Facebook and LinkedIn several years ago after a long day at work and a big networking event afterward.  You have been there I’m sure; an evening event starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 7:00 p.m. but not for you.  You stay an extra hour, leaving no stone unturned.

Even though I was exhausted when I got home, I wanted to connect through LinkedIn with the people I had just met before I forgot.  Of course it was late at night and I was tired. Here is what it looked like when I saw what I had written the next day:

Hell John, It was gret meeting you tonight.  I look forward to meeting you for coffin.  Sincerely, Leah Hawthorn”.

I’m sure I made a great social media first impression!!  Never network in person or online if you are
too tired.  It WILL show.  Remember – we don’t drink and drive, so don’t drink and social media!  I’m sure a lot worse than “Hell John” could happen.

In today’s fiercely competitive business arena, etiquette and protocol intelligence will distinguish you from the crowd.  Having good social media etiquette can make the difference between you and another person who is just as smart.

People are connecting with, listening to, following and collaborating with each other at an amazing rate. Online networking is not new to most of us, and by now we have found that there is little difference in networking with people in social media and connecting with people offline.  The same protocol is recommended for both.  Project confidence, authority and trust for both social media and business networking.

Here are a few examples of how
Social Media Networking and In-Person Networking are the same.

First Impressions

Your Photo

Please DO NOT use the default graphic as your photo.  You know, that big white silhouette of no
one.  People want to see you.  LinkedIn – Professional photo.  Facebook – Social Photo is acceptable,
but be cautious.  A lot of people are using Facebook for business.  Any photo you post is forever.  You are branding yourself.

Eye Contact

Your Profile and Bio.

Let others know who you are.  Make sure your information is always up to date.  People are looking.  If you no longer work for a certain company or your position has changed, reflect that in your profile and bio.  Be Honest!  PYP = Proof Your Profile!!


The Limp Fish “Canned Invitations”

Avoid canned invitations as much as possible.  Set yourself apart from the crowd.  “It was great to meet you.  I would like to connect with you   through LinkedIn as well.

The Bone Crusher “People Collecting”

Some people like to collect people.  It’s not about how many business cards you collect; it’s about the relationships you create with other individuals.  You DO NOT have to friend people you do not know.  It is OKAY to de-friend someone who is posting things that show up on your page that you find offensive.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha would say!


I have a headache.  I am eating a Sardine sandwich.  I just woke up.  Really??!!  Too much is too much.  Excessive
game requests, gifts and” join my cause” on Facebook can get you into trouble. Some people don’t appreciate this part of social media.

Soft Skills Sell!!

Focus more on the other person.  It’s always a great idea to help someone out with an event or a request.  People are more likely to help
you if you help others.

Avoiding Certain Subjects

Religion and Politics.

Tread lightly.  Do you really want to brand yourself to the world with your political or religious views?  Once you put it out there, it is out there!
This goes for Facebook and LinkedIn.  You would NOT discuss politics or religion at an in-person networking event.  This is a simple Networking Protocol wherever you are.

Your Mother Was Right

Be kind.  Don’t personally attack other people.  Be professional.  Use appropriate language.  Do use proper spelling and grammar.  Be respectful of others, and be positive!

In the end, being a part of social media can be fun and is an incredible, effective business tool.  Don’t let it be a time sucker for you.  Tell yourself how much time you will give to social media every day and try to stick with it.  It will still be there tomorrow.  I promise.

I spoke with Tina Marker, social media guru and President and Founder of Windward Design Group LLC about the importance of etiquette in
the online networking realm. Here are four items she mentioned about social media protocol.

1) If you wouldn’t share something in a room full of casual strangers,
why would you do so on the Web?

2) “What happens in Vegas” . . . ends up on Facebook!
Need I say more?

3) TMI (too much information) “Status Update” does not
mean you should journal every detail of your day . . . and night!

4) Profanity has no place in public conversations . . .
keep it social.

In the end, being a part of social media can be fun and is an incredible, effective business tool.  Don’t let it be a time sucker for you.
Tell yourself how much time you will give to social media every day and try to stick with it.  It will still be there tomorrow.  I promise.

See you on Social Media!



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avatar About Leah Hawthorn

Leah Hawthorn is a certified business image & etiquette coach, training facilitator for The Defense Acquisition Universities, Senior College Fellowship. She trains frequently for WPAFB and is a Master Trainer for the Protocol School of Washington. Ms. Hawthorn works to facilitate change by improving individual and corporate images as well as Business Etiquette/ Social Intelligence Skills, and will be sharing her etiquette tips here on Dayton in her column "Getting The Edge on Etiquette". Check out her business website - ABI, Advanced Business Image & Etiquette.