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Keeping the Social in the Social Media Age

Call me old fashioned, but after 40 years in the business world, I’ve observed what works when it comes to social and business interactions. It’s pretty easy to see how self-indulgent we have become as you witness a sea of people with their faces lit up by the blue glow of a phone screen. While there are a lot of benefits to social media, it’s also degrading our in-person interactions rapidly.

I’ve been blessed to work with some of the best in the business–top-level executives from Fortune 500 companies, the best and brightest architects in the industry, and small business people that remember what it means to put the customer first. In each of these cases, there are some constants. Here’s a primer on what is acceptable and what will push you to the forefront of the business and, most likely, the personal pack.

The Basics
Always confirm appointments. It will save you time in the long run and allow each party to reschedule if there has been an honest mistake.

Answer emails in a timely fashion. We are bombarded with communication now, but it only takes a second to acknowledge an email, even if you can’t fully reply. This keeps the conversation going and lets your client or vendor know that you’re on top of things.

Arrive at appointments 15 minutes early. Fashionably late may work for your friends’ party, but it doesn’t in the business world. When you arrive early, you can walk into your meeting relaxed and ready instead of harried and distracted. If you have to be late, communicate this. Everyone’s time is valuable. Respect that.

Listen. Listen to your client and base your plans on their best interest, not your own. Even if this means you’ll have a lower sale now, it may mean repeated business in the long run when they see that you care about their needs, not just your bottom line.

Be honest and precise. Be upfront about your policies and costs. Money may be taboo to talk about at dinner, but not in a business meeting. Money runs the business world.

Keep your conversation neutral. No politics or religion, even if the client brings it up.

Don’t chew gum, either in person during meetings or on the phone. It can be distracting.

Keep your language clean and professional. Slang or profanity has no place in the workplace.

Social Media Basics
In meetings, keep your phone off and put away. The most important person in the world is the one sitting in front of you. Catch up on your social media during your lunchtime or after work. Too much living vicariously can be very unhealthy.

When you are on social media, watch what you post or comment. Many high ranking people have lost jobs or caused scandals based on what they’ve posted on social media. If you wouldn’t want your boss or your mother to see something, don’t post it.

Life Lessons
Remember the Golden Rule. It’s more important now than ever and will make you stand out in the crowd of self-servers.

And lastly, do what you say and say what you do. Your words mean something–good or bad. If people know you as a person of integrity, you will be the person that they turn to when they need a friend or business associate.

Even in this age of digital interaction, manners and courtesy are business and personal currency. Shore up your ‘account’ by treating others well.

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