Friday, January 14, 2011

Workplace etiquette is not an oxymoron

Etiquette may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're trying to come up with 140 characters for a witty tweet. But if you are a professionsal, etiquette - business etiquette, to be exact - should cross your mind, preferably before you hit "send."

Etiquette expert Barbara Pachter (that's her at left) has, fortunately, given a great deal of thought to work- and tweet-related etiquette. Her new book,"GREET! EAT! TWEET! 52 Business Etiquette Postings To Avoid Pitfalls & Boost Your Career" is kind of a Pachter's greatest hits of etiquette. This book, Pachter's ninth on business etiquette, is a compilation of 52 of her favorite blogs. Advice on Twitter, other social media platforms and updated business etiquette suggestions are covered.

You may have seen my previous posts about Pachter's pragmatic office tips (the four political questions to avoid at work, dos and don'ts of office romance; and why you shouldn't get lit at the office party, for example). Those topics and more are all included in this slim little paperback book.

Other chapters include: How to dress for an interview (hint: not casual); proper business-luncheon table etiquette (including not licking your knife or dumping copious amounts of salt or pepper on your food); and how to avoid "costly mistakes" with social media including Twitter and Facebook.

According to a press release from Pachter & Associates, the author's business, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that Twitter is used by 8 percent of online Americans and 72 percent of Twitter users post updates about their personal life, activities or interests.

"Twitter provides many opportunities for people to make comments that can negatively affect their careers," Pachter said, recalling a news headline "Twitter Can Get You Fired in 140 Characters Or Less."

In the chapter "Social Networking Tips for Professionals," Pachter offers the following suggestions when tweeting or facebooking:

1) Think before you post. Any photo you post or update you make can come back to haunt you. When in doubt, don't post.

2) Have an online presence. Despite what was just laid out in No. 1, you and your business need to stay up-do-date in the social media. Clients, customers and people looking for more information about you will look you up via these avenues.

3) Remember it's all part of your professional image. Would you want to do business with someone who just tweeted what you did?

4) Follow company guidelines. Your company probably has some rules about social networking on company time. Follow them.

5) Don't let social networking take over your life. Enough said.

6) Remember that phone calls and in-person visits are still an important part of doing business. Facebook may not be the most expedient way to book a lunch date.

Some of the advice may seem more common sense than major breakthrough, but we could all use a little more common sense!

Barbara Pachter is also the author of "NewRules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead" and "The Prentice Hall Complete Business Etiquette Handbook." For more of her advice and tips, visit her blog. She's also, of course, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

"GREET! EAT! TWEET! 52 Business Etiquette Postings To Avoid Pitfalls & Boost Your Career" is available for sale online at,, and bookstores. Or you can have my copy for free just by leaving a comment with your e-mail address - I'll contact you to find out your mailing address.

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