Protect Your Company with Social Media Etiquette Training

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Image by Rosaura Ochoa via Flickr

Many organizations monitor social media usage, in fact some corporations ban employees from indulging in social media at work completely.

According to a new report from Gartner, “corporations are starting to embrace technologies used to monitor employee Internet use, with 60 percent expected to watch workers’ social media use for security breaches by 2015.”

Employees should be careful about “inappropriate” work-related posts on Facebook and other social media sites, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

“There’s no doubt that the growth of social networking has created a paradigm shift for organizational security monitoring,” he said in an email. “Employees should be aware that their activities may be monitored by their employers, although the precise legal parameters for doing so will need to be developed.”

If you need your employees to use social media at work for brand management and marketing purposes it is important for them to be aware of proper social media etiquette so that your reputation is protected at all times.

Employees on the other hand, need to be aware of social media etiquette so that they can not only maintain their organization’s professional image but also their own.

Here are some do’s and don’ts of social media etiquette as shared on the Huffington Post:

What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Post

  • Do not post negative, controversial, rude or potentially insulting commentary in online spaces.
  • Do not speak ill of others, or publicly deride competitors — good sportsmanship reigns.
  • Keep discussions about office politics off all social networks — even those that you consider private.
  • Do not use social networks to air dirty laundry.
  • Respond respectfully to commentary aimed at you — or do not respond at all.
  • Promote others more than you promote yourself to avoid self-aggrandizing.
  • Be supportive of others and treat them with the same level of professionalism that you’d ask for yourself.

Social media etiquette is more important now than ever, on a corporate level all the way down to an individual level. Social Media Etiquette training is a part of Corporate Class Inc.’s Techno-Communication Skills training course. Contact Diane Craig to learn more about it today!

 

Why Engaged Listening Matters in Business

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In a humorous and insightful essay in last weekend’s issue of the Globe and Mail, Katrina Onstad analyzes today’s growing disappearance of eye contact, which she cites as “the most potent tool of body language.” This essay struck a note with me, particularly because eye contact is so critical for effective communication and engagement in business, not just in social life. Likewise, knowledge of how to use devices respectfully, especially smart phones, is also very important – and, as Onstad notes, is a central reason for the current absence of eye contact and therefore engaged communication. Her concept, put in a business perspective, could help you keep on top of your game in business communication.

 

Engaged Speaking and Listening

As we have shared in another recent blog post on body language tips, body language can help to make or break your career. And as eye contact is a significant component of body language, it certainly carries weight in your career-related interactions.

In one-on-one situations, eye contact demonstrates to the other person in the conversation that you are interested in what they have to say. As your posture and gestures can reflect boredom or disengagement, a lack of eye contact will make this painfully obvious. As you will see in my earlier post, if what you say is not congruent with your body language, then people will believe your body language and not your words.

Eye contact is necessary during individual conversations. A less obvious context but equally as important for good eye contact is during public speaking or talking to a group. Effective public speakers scan the audience during a talk, maintaining eye contact with listeners in the crowd. When up onstage, keep in mind not to focus on one person the whole time, but move your eyes throughout the crowd. This will make the listeners feel like you are speaking directly to them as individuals, and will keep them engaged throughout the duration of your speech.

Likewise, even in a more casual context of a group or staff meeting, be sure to allow your eyes to move from person to person. Again, this will create the effect that you are speaking to them instead of at them.

 

Focus on the Conversation

Another component of Onstad’s essay that is both inseparable and foundational to her argument for sustaining eye contact is the argument that our devices – most notably, our cell phones – are making us less engaged with those around us. This concept is also important to keep in mind in a business setting, whether we are interacting on a daily basis with a colleague or trying to impress a client.

 

Cell Phones in Meetings

Often in day-to-day meetings, it is considered acceptable to have a smart phone or laptop present, as the rest of the workday continues and people need to keep on top of their tasks and emails. Nevertheless, try to check emails minimally, and don’t have a phone sitting right in front of you – or else you will be tempted to pick it up every time you receive an email. In doing so, you will be removing yourself from the discussion or blatantly disregarding what someone is saying.

It is for this reason that many companies have established a “no devices” policy during certain meetings, notably during staff meetings that occur only once per week or month. Otherwise, members present risk being distracted by other work.

During important and less frequent meetings, such as those with external clients or guests, no devices should be present. Keeping preoccupied with one would not only reflect poorly on you, but also on your company. If your ringer goes off during such a meeting, turn off the phone without checking to see who is calling and apologize after the meeting.

Cell Phones at the Dinner Table

Though phones and other devices are often acceptable in meetings, it is never appropriate to keep one on the table (or on your lap) during a meal. Again, if you are out on a business lunch with a client or a company guest, bad business etiquette becomes a poor representation of your company.

While cell phones on the dinner table are inappropriate, it is equally unacceptable to try to use a phone discreetly – due to the reality that it simply won’t be discreet. In her essay, Onstad describes a situation that happens all too frequently:

You are mid-sentence and suddenly the listener’s eyes slide southward to her own hand or the table or her lap. Whether she glances back immediately or – and this hurts – begins pecking away at whatever device proved more important than the final part of your sentence, the moment of connection that came before has snapped like a twig.

In business, moments like these are not only rude, but they can also be destructive to your credibility.

In daily life, remembering to put down our devices and make eye contact is important if we want to actively engage with our surroundings and with the people around us. In business, doing just that is crucial to effective communication, to displaying the best level of professionalism, and ultimately to advancing your career.

 

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Working a Room: The ABC’s of Interrupting a Conversation

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Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert when it comes to entering a room full of strangers you break into a sweat and have butterflies flying in your stomach. Working a room can be hard, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A recent post I read talks about the top four most “uncomfortable” moments when working a room:

  1. Starting the interaction
  2. Breaking off an ongoing conversation
  3. Bringing someone new into your conversation
  4. Interrupting an ongoing conversation

The post offers a few pointers on the last point, “interrupting an ongoing conversation,” as that can be one of the most uncomfortable things to do from the above four.

So if you want to walk up to a group and join their conversation, here are some tips:

First, take a deep breath & realize that people in networking events EXPECT you to break into their conversations. You’re introducing them to new people (yourself) without them having to interrupt someone else’s conversation. Some people will be absolutely giddy that you’re rescuing them from the previous conversation.

Second, breaking into someone else’s conversation takes some guts but it gets easier with practice. It’s as easy as A-B-C:

A. Do what you would do if you saw someone you already know. That is, walk up & catch the eye of one member of the group, then stick out your hand to shake his/her hand.

B. Say, “Excuse me. I’m ____. May I join your conversation?” Amazingly creative, huh? But, as with “Open Sesame,” the group will magically open up to make room for you.

C. Sometimes the group is in a meaty conversation when you walk up, so just introduce yourself briefly with your name (no elevator speech at this point) & say, “You looked as if you were in an interesting conversation when I walked up. Please continue.”

Building your business network by working a room well can be as easy as A-B-C if you know how to do it well and with confidence.

When it comes to business networking, the little things you do make a big difference.

Interpersonal Communication Skills training can be a great way to learn all about working a room including tips on reading body language, prepping up your conversation skills, perfecting your handshake and much more.

 

How to Make the Most of a Conference

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I recently returned from a conference in Orlando.  I went along with 120 Canadian delegates, all members of WEConnect Canada, an organization dedicated to the certification and support of women-owned businesses. The conference was an exciting and robust exchange of information, ideas and contacts – a valuable experience indeed for women of various expertise and backgrounds in entrepreneurship and business. As most conferences go, such a vast amount of content in such a short period of time requires a lots of planning and strategy in order to make the most of the fulfilling time there. A few tips can help to get you in the right mindset and can keep you focused during the conference itself, enabling the most “takeaways” from a conference rich in content. These tips can be applied to conferences of any topic or theme.

 

Come prepared.

Before you even travel to the conference location, review the schedule beforehand. If you have a choice between simultaneous workshops, research and read about both the speakers and the topics, so that you can attend the talks that you know would best fit your interests and your work.

The schedule will also provide insights as to what you should wear.  If you are not certain of the dress code, ask.  And please err on the more formal side: even if the program recommends casual dress, as the conference may take place in a warm climate or involve lots of walking, remember that you are there to do business and you must make a good first impression.

If the conference offers an accompanying trade show, reading about organizations with booth displays as well as reviewing the trade show floor map in advance can save a significant amount of time. Instead of wandering through the show, scanning the booths and deciding which ones to visit, you can head straight to the ones that you are interested in and would like to engage with. Otherwise, the sea of booths can prove overwhelming if you spend most of your time simply processing who is represented.

Another tip: have some questions ready for the organizations or vendors you are certain you want to visit at the trade show.

 

Take time to reflect after each panel discussion or speech.

Following each informative talk or discussion, take just a few minutes to reflect on what you heard. What was the key message? What were one or two important points that you learned? What can you apply to your own professional growth, or the development of your company? Write these reflections down between the sessions or during breaks. With so much information exchange at a conference, even brief moments of reflection are necessary for internalization and retention of information.

Even if you are scheduled to attend back-to-back sessions, think about these points during your walk between venues. Take time at the end of the day to process and write down takeaways from each unique talk.

 

Actively network, both during the conference and on “off-time.”

Conferences are well known to be great networking opportunities. But don’t limit networking to simply acquiring a stack of business cards without making legitimate connections and lasting impressions. If you meet people that could be really valuable contacts, be sure to connect with them during time you set aside to chat one-on-one, not just a brief conversation between sessions or a networking cocktail.

According to the creative professional think tank Behance, “many frequent conference-goers claim that their greatest conference experiences happened in the ‘downtime,’” when they truly had a chance to sit down and discuss with peers from around the world whom they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to meet.

 

Follow up with key contacts – ASAP.

Don’t leave getting in touch with fellow conference participants as a “to-do” that will sit on your desk until you have time to get around to it in a few weeks. It’s crucial to follow up with important contacts shortly after you meet them: firstly, so that they don’t forget who you are, and secondly, so that they are aware that you value them as a connection since you have promptly reached out to them.

Be sure to call or email key contacts within a few days of returning to the office – you never know what kind of opportunity could arise from their connection. Another point to stress is to follow up on any and all promises you made, whether it is to connect people, send the title of a book or share a recipe. Follow through with your commitments, big or small.

Conferences can provide excellent spaces for development and can facilitate valuable relationships. Attending with even a minimal strategy in mind will help you gain the most a conference has to offer.

 

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Have Good Manners and “Respect” Disappeared in 2012?

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There’s no doubt that our society today is very different from what it was a few decades ago. But has “respect” disappeared from our society? Watch a recent CBS news report to find out what people are saying about good manners:

Respect and good manners never go out of style. No matter where in the world you might live; we all want to be treated with respect. If you think about it, etiquette is nothing but respect – Respect for others in the way you treat them in business or at the job, while travelling or at the dinner table; and it’s also respect for yourself – how you look and feel, how you dress and how you present yourself in front of the world.

Corporate Class Inc.’s etiquette classes in Toronto teach you that the first step to receiving respect is to give respect.

Find out more about our various etiquette classes in Toronto including:

To get more information about etiquette classes in Toronto and how they can deliver measurable benefit to your organization, contact Diane Craig.

 

Workplace Etiquette Tips for Managers and Employees

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If you’re part of the corporate culture and only do your job as per what your “job description” states that might be holding you back.

Whether you like it or not, common courtesy is still important in the workplace no matter what position you hold. In fact, proper workplace etiquette can be one of the deciding factors in getting ahead at work.

Why? Because the way you’re perceived by others matters. Bagging a promotion takes more than just how well you do your job. It relies on a number of different factors including how visible you are in the workplace, your executive presence, how much influence you have, the risks and responsibilities you’re willing to take on and the workplace etiquette you display.

According to a recent post in News Sentinel, learning the “corporate culture” in your office is important. Here are a few workplace etiquette tips the post offers:

•Be respectful of people at every level in the workplace. Position, money and power are not the hallmarks of a considerate person. It is the way you treat people that sets you apart. It takes a team to make an organization work. The people at the top would not be there without those working under them. There are no small jobs.

•Do your share; refill the paper in the fax machine and copier, make coffee if you have the last cup, bring the treats occasionally etc. Anticipate what may be needed and do more.

•When conflict arises, go to the source and try to work out the problem. Do not be accusatory, and be sure you listen to the other side. And if you are at fault, own your mistake. Control your temper. Angry people are less effective; walk away and cool off.

•Keep work problems at work. Discussing work problems outside of work may be a violation of confidentiality and looks and sounds bad in a public setting. You never know who may be listening. It can also undermine the integrity of the organization, and it is unprofessional.

•Be sure to keep confidences. It is admirable and it is important. If someone shares information that is sensitive or personal, keep it to yourself. Don’t become the office gossip.

•Have regular team meetings and ask everyone to participate in resolving an office problem. This can help get people on board and hopefully realize that everyone plays a part in making things going smoothly.

At Corporate Class Inc. we’ve helped many corporations instill workplace etiquette in the corporate environment. In our exclusive workplace etiquette workshop your people will learn:

  • The importance of understanding your corporate culture
  • To plan, lead and attend meetings with maximum productivity
  • To receive clients with class and courtesy
  • The rules of conduct when visiting a client
  • Tips to help you acknowledge the efforts and achievements of your colleagues
  • The unspoken rules of work

Contact Toronto etiquette expert, Diane Craig to find out more!