How to Be a Virtual Success

shutterstock_161977721 There are close to a billion people on Facebook. More than 500,000 people open an account on Twitter daily, and YouTube is the second largest search engine, behind Google. There are more than 200 million blogs and people are sharing images on Pinterest and Instagram at an unprecedented rate.

It’s safe to say that people you know are online. And more of them are jumping on every day.

Yet a lot of netiquette mistakes are being made in the digital realm. The good news is that many of the same etiquette rules that apply in the real world are also applicable on the Web.

For example, would you walk up to someone you don’t know at an event, push your business card into their hand and say, “You need my {insert name of product, service or flavor of the month here}. Call me and I’ll give you a great deal.” Yet, this is exactly what so many are doing on social media platforms every day.

Or what about the girl who tries too hard to dazzle everyone at the party and won’t stop talking about herself?

On social media when all you do is talk at people, or broadcast information about your products and services, you’re alienating others and ruining your chances for building long-term relationships.

As in daily life, the people who are successful with social media are the ones who ask questions, foster dialogue and create meaningful relationships.

Here are five rules for the virtual road:

Be a Good Listener – When you enter into a conversation, how can you possibly know what to talk about unless you listen first? Sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t simply broadcast media, they’re listening networks. You’d be amazed how much you can learn about people by just asking a few questions and then listening. As in any good relationship, listening should always be at least 50% of your communications process online.

Be Authentic – Most people can smell a rat a mile away. If you’re not being yourself – or even worse, just copying what someone else is doing – it makes it hard for people to get to know and like you. If you are too robotic, stuffy, forced or scripted in your social media interactions, you’ll have a hard time connecting. The truth is, we’re drawn to people who are able to be open and honest, share their true selves and admit their flaws.

Be Responsive – Here’s a little secret, both online and off: everyone on this planet wants to be acknowledged and validated. When you respond to and acknowledge others, you take the first step in building a relationship. When you share others’ content and insights, you validate them and let them know that you’re probably someone worth getting to know.

Add Value – When you provide valuable tips, insights and links to your social media networks, you demonstrate your expertise and credibility, and build your reputation as a resource. When you consistently provide great content over time, you won’t need to advertise how wonderful you are, because the community you have built will do it for you.

Engage – When you are truly engaged, you are genuinely interested in what others are saying. It means you are active and present on the social media networks you have chosen to put up a profile. It means the lights are on and you are home – you don’t abandon your platforms for days and weeks on end. You show up.

How are you showing up online?

©2012 Liz Dennery Sanders

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