Two of us sit in the library. The extrovert in me cries out to engage the man at the end of the table. He keeps his head buried in the book he is reading trying hard not to make eye contact. Believe me, I have tried.
We sit there for what feels like hours for me. Others trickle into the room and the quiet he had been guarding so close just minutes before shatters around him. He looks up and it makes me smile.
Connections are not always easy, wanted or mutual. He had things he needed to do and chit chatting with me was not on that list. He avoided the connection that I craved.
Reading the signs in real life can be easy compared with understanding connections on the internet. The body language of my friend in the library screamed the answer - but there is no body language on the internet.
I met a person online. She sent me links and tips through email. I included her in a mail out I did about a contest that I was in. She sent me back a response that said I had broken internet protocol and she did not want to be on that list. THEY had told me to email my contacts about what I was doing - THEY did not tell me about a list.
Telling a Southern Belle that she has overstepped etiquette boundaries is like telling the chocoholic that cocoa beans have gone extinct - it is NOT a pretty site - especially when said Belle thought she was doing what was ordinary and expected. I was crushed.
My skills for reading the wants and interests of others fell short because I was unable to see the other person. It left me confused and frustrated because I want to connect with others online and not and then figure out a way to do the most with those connections.
Simple Online Connection Etiquette from a Struggling Southern Belle
1. Ask permission - forget the idea that you can do first and just ask forgiveness later. The internet can be a VERY unforgiving world. Let people know that you want to send them updates about your content and products if they provide their email addresses.
2.Ask permission AGAIN - some people will agree to something without really thinking about what they are agreeing to do. You should include a button at the top (and possibly again at the bottom) of any emails that make it easy for someone who does not want your correspondence to stop getting your correspondence.
3. Go easy on the correspondence - once a month should be plenty unless you have told subscribers that you will provide more than that.
4. Say thank you - let others know that you appreciate the time it takes to open and read your correspondence. Add an additional thank you if there are actions involved. You might include a coupon for a discount on products or maybe a free download. Just make it worth the effort that you are asking others to give.
5. Read between the lines - if the comments, posts and emails you get from others are not personal - or you do not get direct responses to any you send their way then you might want to consider those to be internet acquaintances and not internet friends (people that you know but no that you would ask to watch your kids).
6. Say "sorry" and then move on - never take a slight personally. People will unfriend, unfollow, and unsubscribe for any number of reasons. If you get the opportunity to apologize for any missteps then take it quick. Move on to the new connections you are making each day and those that have made the choice to stick around.
7. Make their needs the priority - for every item that you send out to self-promote into the great internet beyond there should be nine items that offer only tips, suggestions or links to others. Keep the focus on providing a benefit to others instead of having the focus on the dollar.
Building relationships through the internet can be a challenge. Reading the desires of others online can be much tougher than reading the body language of person sitting in front of you. Learn some basic internet etiquette to begin growing the online connections that can drive your writing career to success.