Netiquette 3.0 is where common courtesy meets the internet. Thinking about netiquette is necessary since business communications have evolved and become internet based. Telephone and snail mail are no longer the primary forms of business communication as texting, instant messaging and social media have taken precedent.
A question that many people ask is how do the various generations like to communicate? Is the answer the same when communicating with Baby Boomers, Gen X or Gen Z?
Let’s take a look at the various generations and make some generalizations about how each generation likes to communicate.
- Direct, visual and succinct
- Communicate with images and multitask across multiple screens
- Short attention spans, communicate in bite-sized snacks with punchy headlines, emoticons, photos and images
- Hate talking on the phone
- Prefer texting or messaging apps
- Likes thought-out responses afforded by texts, unlike personal conversations or phone calls
- Will use email although it is seen as less urgent than a text
- Adapt quickly to new technology
- Grew up with the emergence of the PC, lived through the dot-com bust and the introduction of the cell phone
- Can be reached with a variety of technologies
- The most technologically versatile
- Prefer face-to-face meetings
- Talk on the phone
- Use email, video conference, text, etc. – varies by individual
- Don’t underestimate their tech knowledge
- Stay accessible and visible
Above all, when communicating in business, it is always best to ask how someone wants to communicate. Find out if they prefer text, email or phone and what is best to use in an emergency. Once you know that, follow the eight rules of business communication:
- Know what you are going to say before you say it
- Less is more (KISS – keep it simple)
- Use bullet points
- What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
- Don’t get bogged down (tangents, lose focus)
- Call to action (again, what’s in it for me?)
- Edit, spell check and review once more
- Follow up
Should emojis or emoticons be used in email or other business communications? This is definitely a question many people have. These cute symbols are not universal, so what shows up properly on your phone may just look like this 🙁 on the recipients’ email, and some people argue that they can make you seem less professional in business. However, according to Hubspot, using them in social media can increase engagement by 25.4 percent and likes by 57 percent!
What about email? We all move so fast that it seems that email communications are often riddled with mistakes.
Here are a few email etiquette tips:
- Write the body of the email first (KISS)
- No yelling, please – NOT ALL CAPS
- Watch those symbols and abbreviations
- Fill in the subject line
- Address with care (Check to make sure you are sending to the right person)
- Add the attachment
- Check your tone
- Give it one last review before sending
One of the best tips I have ever received for email is regarding the Subject Line. This tip comes from email pros Karen Dry and Tammie Smoot. The subject should succinctly state the subject of your email in an organized fashion with 25 to 35 characters maximum.
Subject lines should be written as follows:
Primary Subject – Secondary Subject – Regarding – Quick Reference
So, in the case of this article that was first written for NAHB’s Professional Women in Building’s Building Women, when I send it to Sheronda, I might use the following Subject line:
PWB – Building Women – Netiquette article – for your review
Using this method to clarify the subject link of the email makes it easy for the recipient to know the contents of the email at a glance. This also makes it super easy for the sender to find that email later because it is categorized. At Denim Marketing, we use this method of categorizing emails for all external and internal emails. We also have a rule that once an email has gone back and forth three times, if there is still confusion and no resolution, it is time to pick up the phone and call.
Good manners typically equate to higher social status, greater wealth, supreme standards and being well educated. Let’s work to come across as the smart women we are and communicate at a high level with our business contacts. Technology allows us to do more – faster. Because we are connected 24/7 and always in a hurry, corners get cut and netiquette gets left out. Let’s pledge to slow down and put netiquette back into the equation!
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