Five Netiquette Rules To Help Present Your Best Digital Self

Whenever you’re online – sending an email, on a video call, tweeting, or posting a picture to Instagram – you’re stamping your own personal brand on the internet. As we hear every day in the world of social media, once something’s online, it’s there forever. Let’s make sure you are putting your best digital self out there!

What is netiquette? Netiquette is a mash up of the words ‘internet’ and ‘etiquette’ – so netiquette rules describe the accepted way of doing things online. It has come to the forefront of the English slang in recent years with the huge change in the recruitment of candidates globally along with a shift towards remote working.

Communicating in the digital world has special challenges. In emails, texts and social media, it’s so easy to be misunderstood because, unlike talking to people face-to-face, tone can be lost in text. We have all experienced a text message or email that wasn’t intended the way it read, and it is essential we don’t make those mistakes when we are looking for our dream job.

You’re probably automatically following most of the netiquette rules already, but here are our five tips to stamp your best self on the internet:

  1. Act online as you would offline

Act as if you are always speaking face to face. Practise your normal politeness and thoughtfulness in your emails, texts, video calls and social media as you would to a friend or colleague.

It is understandable to be triggered by the things we read on social media. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t react. Instead, think of the human behind the words when (or if) you respond and be more forgiving if people make mistakes. If you are adding to a discussion or debate, always check the facts before you respond politely. Not everyone acts online as you do.

  1. Respect everyone’s time

When you are new to a job, an inbox that’s full to bursting can be stressful. Remember that it is the same for everyone. Send emails only to the people who need the information. Talk to your colleagues and make some rules to help manage everyone’s diaries, for instance: no work emails during non-work time, think before you hit ‘reply all’, and ask yourself, “Is it quicker to pick up the phone?”

There are netiquette rules for your email style, of course. Work emails, or emails to prospective employers should always be professional. Think, “How would I read this?” before sending. If you use all caps, YOU’RE SHOUTING. Be very careful when using exclamation marks; too many can make you look overexcited or lightweight, and the rule of thumb is avoid using any emojis unless they are to close colleagues or friends.

  1. Be mindful of the platform you are using

Be aware of the platform you are using and adapt your language and behaviour accordingly: the language of Twitter will be different to that of LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram for example. Video conferencing is a special case; it’s real-time and face-to-face and there are very specific business netiquette rules to show your professionalism. Here’s what to do (and what not to do) on video calls:

  • Be on time, as you would be to an in-person meeting.
  • Have your video on and mute your microphone when you’re not speaking.
  • Switch off your mobile and computer notifications so you don’t become distracted.
  • If you’re hosting the meeting, have a clear agenda.
  • Wear meeting-appropriate clothing. What you wear will depend on your team culture.
  1. Enhance your social media presence

More and more, employers are starting to screen applicants through their social media profiles – not necessarily looking for something terrible about the candidate, but something great, like useful experience or a personality that will fit their culture. Although you may want to boost your social media presence, it’s important to make sure that what you’re posting is quality – not something that’s going to embarrass you in years to come, or harm your chances of getting that dream job.

If you view professional platforms like LinkedIn as your walking, talking CV, then you can’t go far wrong. The trick is to be yourself, but your most professional self. To enrich your profile, read our Top 10 Picks For Optimising Your LinkedIn Profile.

  1. Follow netiquette rules for email

When you are sending an email, make sure that your sign-off is professional and represents you. Always use formal language with those you have never met before, such as “kind regards” and “yours faithfully”. You can show more personality and use fewer formal words once you know the recipient on a more personal level. You can always add a more upbeat and personal statement earlier in your email, for instance, “I’m really pleased to be working with you on this.”

Many netiquette rules are common sense, and the chances are that your standards are already high. But it’s worth taking the time to create an all-round online presence to be proud of.

For advice about how to juggle work and childcare watch our guide to Working At Home With Kids.