By Nathan Johnson
Anyone who’s spent any amount of time online knows that the ability to be the Invisible Man at the end of a computer terminal tends to bring out the worst in people. However, if you’re going to a virtual event where the purpose is to make connections and establish a network, it’s important to mind your p’s and q’s. If you’re new to online events, or you’re just not sure what is and isn’t good form, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind.
#1: You’re Not As Anonymous As You Think
Online events aren’t like the thousands of random forums on the Internet; they require registration, and personal information from users. So even if you keep your profile bare bones (which you shouldn’t), word is going to get around about you and your behavior. That’s true whether the reputation you build is good, or bad. So before you respond to negative criticism, or write to express your frustration with someone, take a deep breath. What you say will be logged, and it might come back to bite you later on down the line.
#2: Be Genuine With Your Intentions
When it comes to virtual events, most people come to play. Whether they’re buyers or sellers, everyone is looking to make some money, digitally shake hands, and to have a solid business interaction. You should do the same. Put on your game face, and be upfront with why you’re there, and what you’re looking for in terms of both interaction, and success. You’ll get much better results if you make no secret about who you are, and what you’re trying to do. In fact, it’s duplicity that can get you a bad reputation, and which will get people to avoid you in the future. Remember, everyone is here to do business, but there’s nothing that says they have to do business with you.
#3: Give Thoughtful, Genuine Feedback
Most virtual events and meetups allow you the option of giving feedback. You can rate the experience, leaving notes for the community to tell them all about your particular interactions, and if you felt the event was valuable, and worthwhile. If you’re going to use this feature, make sure your feedback is heartfelt, and that it is also even-handed. If you get reported leaving bad feedback out of spite, or just to down someone else’s ratings, that can have a boomerang effect when you get reported for your activity. So before you leave feedback, ask yourself if it’s warranted. If it is, remember to keep your feedback professional.
#4: If You Wouldn’t Do It In-Person, Don’t Do It Online
Perhaps the best rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding any faux pas while you’re at a virtual event is to comport yourself online the same way you would in-person. Whether it’s what you say, how you say it, or who you talk to, make sure that your online persona is as close to the real you as you can possibly get. While there will be little things like event-specific jargon, and rules that change from one site to another, those are things you can learn. Remember that even though other people aren’t in the room with you, that shouldn’t change the way you behave. It can take some time, but this is overall a fairly simple habit to get down.
Adjusting to online events isn’t as hard as it might seem. If you join the online discussions, ask questions, and get the hang of a given site, you’ll be comfortable in no time.