More and more of our professional interactions are happening online. The global norm and preferred medium for professional interactions are on email or Slack; in Bangladesh, a lot of work is done on Facebook.
This connectivity is usually a good thing; increasingly, people are leveraging their network, seeing how they can help each other and buying more stuff. However, this calls for a refresher (or an introduction) to the rules of maintaining professionalism online. Here are some mistakes you can avoid, so you can make better impressions and be professional where you need to be.
Don’t just message strangers saying ‘Hi apu/ bhaiya’
Most managers and established professionals are readily available via email or Linkedin. This is one of the main purposes of a network like LinkedIn and many folks will appreciate the effort. See if you can reach them through those channels first. Try the organization’s official Facebook page before you reach out to someone on their personal Facebook profile. Careful not to spam.
In whatever way you choose to connect, make sure you introduce yourself.
Start with a one-liner about who you are, add context and outline the purpose of the message. If you two know each other through a mutual connection who gave you contact information, add that. Then include why you want to connect. Keep it brief so that you can avoid wasting anyone’s time.
It can look something like–
“Hi Mr.Rahman. I am Solaiman, a marketing executive at Bangu Digital. We met briefly at the Chittagong Marketing Forum. Mr. Fahim, your head of programs, told me that you would be the right person to ask about this matter. I would like to discuss a potential collaboration with you and Bangu Digital for our next event. If you are interested, please let me know a time we can chat at your convenience.
Do not ask personal questions
You need to be clear if you are reaching out to someone for professional reasons or for friendship. If you are reaching out to someone for work purposes, do not ask about their personal life. There are other ways to build rapport and find out about work interests or potential collaborations without being invasive. Avoid inappropriate memes, questions about their family, relationship status, etc.
Never say ‘kotha ase’ or ‘ki koren’ as your first line.
The better and preferred alternative is for a mutual friend or colleague to make the introduction in a group message, group chat or email.
Don’t message at odd hours
If you must reach out to someone you have not met through a more personal medium like a Facebook profile or through WhatsApp, message during working hours. Most people have their notifications on and do not want to hear from strangers or acquaintances, especially about work, after 6pm. Messages late at night may ruin that important first impression. Late-night messages are also more likely to go ignored.
This applies to messaging anyone about work, not just new contacts. Of course, exceptions are made for urgent situations. That fantastic opportunity can wait for the morning. Be patient.
Do not be rude
All conversations– online and offline– should be civil and respectful. You may officially ‘outrank’ the person you are speaking to, or you are reaching out with an offer for the recipient. Neither situation allows for rudeness or condescension. Professionalism requires you to maintain proper decorum at all times.
How you are as a human- your attitude, your interpersonal skills, how you treat others– matter in your professional growth. In fact, these mistakes may be holding you back from launching into the next step in your career.
This was inspired by recent posts on Facebook from other professionals. Thank you to those who share tips and give feedback so that others can grow. Have a topic that you think should be shared with your peers? Let us know!