Etiquette Suggestions for Maintaining a Professional Online Image

Etiquette Suggestions for Maintaining a Professional Online Image

Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Some people think just because they are behind the computer, etiquette rules do not apply. But, online image and etiquette are just as important and may make a huge difference with how you build and nurture relationships.

The Internet can be one of the most ambiguous channels of communication. However, it is also one of the fastest and greatest ways to communicate. Nowadays, many of us find it hard to survive without email or social networking sites.

Networking online is an art; building mutually long term relationships requires the same quality of professional courtesy and dual respect as any other means of communication. Inner wellness can be expressed in many forms through social networking sites and email.

Netiquette is a code of ethics for the Internet. Unlike the code of professional conduct of accountants, lawyers or doctors, which is supported by legislation, the code of conduct for the Internet requires high levels of self discipline that is ultimately dependent upon our inner quality. When no one can see what we are doing, what else do we have, but our soul, to keep our decorous behavior?

The suggestions below are a basis of good universal code of conduct for email and online networking:


– Never contain too much personal opinion, emotional elements, cartoons, slogans or jokes when sending formal business email.

– Learn to use the emoticon chart (below) as they are all appropriate for informal business emails to keep us up to date:

:> or :-> = Devilish grin
:] or :-] = Friendly
or = Frowning
:/ or :-/ = Frustrated
or = Smiling
:O or :-O = Surprised
or = Winking
:} or :-} = Wry smile

– Do not show a humorous character that may be offensive to others as we have no way to support our humor with proper body language or to see if our message is being interpreted correctly. Even self depreciating humor could cause others to see you as a low esteemed person.
– When forwarding appropriate jokes to co-workers or friends, do not send them too often. Also, be careful of sending attachments with huge file sizes.

– Forwarding should not be sent to everyone in your address book. One good principle to remember is that no one has the ability to stop the mail delivery once you click “Send.” So, make sure you choose wisely before sending a forwarded email.

– It could be rude to use BCC on personal or family emails. “Season greetings” messages or e-cards for special events should be sent individually. For some people, the CC function is marginally acceptable.

– Do not forward any unverified warning or urgent assistance to others. Experts claim that currently there is no way for anyone to count the number of copies of an email in circulation on the Internet; nor can the number of times something has been forwarded be counted.

– Keep flaming at a minimum. Flaming stands for deluge of critical e-mail, the directing of a large volume of abusive and insulting email at somebody, often as part of a flame war.

However, flaming also describes a situation in which a person or group of people express their criticism or negativity about something. It could be news, current affairs or world events. When a flaming is directed toward a country, a race, group of people, a person and his/her beliefs, prejudice and offensive elements are hard to avoid.

This kind of flaming should be minimized as much as possible. Unnecessary confrontation is a target of avoidance on the Web. When you find that you are inevitably involved in flaming, notify your readers and maintain your objectivity. A professional individual maintains their professionalism, even when he has to fight or confront it.

Social Networking and Online Forums

You do not have to travel to meet interesting people from different places of the world because now, we have Facebook and other social networking sites. There is nothing more fascinating than talking with interesting friends from around the world or joining insightful forums without having to pay entrance fees.

However, it pays to remember some basic rules to remember when talking to your global friends:

– Netiquette itself has no legislative standards at the moment and is different in other countries. Do not expect everyone in your discussion group to follow the same rules. Stay positive and keep an open mind.

– While you are free to express your opinions, do not expect everyone to agree with you or to share your beliefs.

– Never jump to conclusions, especially when you join a forum that is in the middle of a discussion. In such situations, be patient to observe and catch up in the discussion– before posting any comments.

– When posting your point of view, be sure that it is a constructive and informed one. Sending premature messages gives people negative feelings and may even lead to flaming. It is very immature to be discussing something that you know nothing about.

– Utilizing FAQ is a good way to avoid asking stupid questions. In reality, more than 85% of your questions are answered by the preset FAQ.

– Finally, remember that you are actually talking to human beings. Your computer is no more than a tool to communicate; it is a tool of technology and limitation at the same time.

In conclusion, email and social sites are here to stay. Every day, there seems to be something new “popping up” for us to decide to join. So, we always have to remember to maintain a professional image and practice common etiquette rules anywhere we decide to network.

Do you have any other suggestions for online networking and communicating? How about any stories to share or comments to make about maintaining a professional image online?

Since 1985, Dr. Joyce Knudsen, AICI CIM (Certified Image Master) has been President of The ImageMaker, Inc.® and has been an International Trainer, Author, and Mentor.