Our community forums have brought about questions with regard to etiquette on Web Sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and really all social media. Hence we introduce “Netiquette”, business etiquette online.

On these forums our readers mention a lot of the positive aspects of social media including; immediate communication, far-reaching messages, quality measurement and the ability to stay in touch and or reconnect. Some of the negative attributes that have been shared include: time commitment, eroding communication skills and the fact that social media etiquette is difficult to understand.

We were surprised that so many people want to know the etiquette “rules” for being more effective in both personal and business communications.  It seems to be one of the most common struggles for many who are navigating this new way of connecting.

Our take: Manners matter, online and offline. Without face to face contact, even more so.

Here are 4 keys to Netiquette success

Say “Hello” – If you are at a networking event and you’re face-to-face with someone, you’re going to introduce yourself before you launch into a conversation. On LinkedIn (or other networks where you are “meeting” people), be sure to respect the same consideration. If you are asking for a connection on LinkedIn, update the default message to a more personalized one before sending the request.

Think before you tweet, blog, comment, post, update, etc. – There is transparency that comes with communicating online. Once you hit the “send” button, you can’t take it back. It can be very easy to fire off a tweet or update your page, without thinking about the repercussions. We are all for honesty, but be sure you’re sharing information you want the world to see! Carpenters use the phrase “measure twice, cut once.” Here we say “read twice, send once.”

Show your gratitude – If someone shares your content, or endorses you, send a thank you. This is a good way to show your gratitude, but it’s also a great way to connect with a fan, follower, customer, client or business and it allows you to engage further.

Returning favors and endorsements it is not mandatory, it is a gift. –   If you have to ask yourself  “should I reciprocate this endorsement?” then you probably already know the answer. Again, reply as you would in person.  Would you write a letter of recommendation for this person or would you pass them on as a referral?  Remember that your name is attached to your recommendations. Use the same protocols you would in face to face business.

Talk like a real person, but be professional –  If you’re using social media to build your business, or your professional network, the most important thing you can do is be yourself. Know your goals (just as you would at a networking event) and get to know people through real conversations. Be professional. Be honest. Be courteous. Be yourself.

Since online networking is new to many, know that there is little difference in connecting with people online and offline. The same basic doctrines hold true: Trust and authenticity are at the top of the list and common courtesy and respect are key.

What tips do you have to share? Your thoughts on the positive and negative aspects of social media Netiquette? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments below!

Penny Jones, resident Boomer, blogger and social media content writer at WebWorld Advantage. WebWorld Advantage, is a company dedicated to innovation in Social Media, Email Marketing, Marketing Consulting, Training and Education.