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Many organizations rely on social media and social networking as extentions of their store fronts and for internal communication with customers and emplyoees.  While many of the internal safeguards put into place for "controlled" environments do not exist in the wild west of online networking or in the arena of "user generated content".

To often we as users of online communication channels don't really think about the impact of our online behavior until it is too late.  Even if we had well being intentions.  The blogosphere in our industry seems to raise dander when issues are addressed as it relates to online behavior or reviews of products that serve the dealer community. 

While there is not a hard fast set of rules to live by there are many suggestions that will make the networking environments more enjoyable and fullfilling for all:

Here is a list I have compliled for you.

  • Follow the House Rules - Every networking platfom has terms of service and guidlines.  Before you engage the community make sure you understand them.
  • Lurk before you leap - Observe the conversation that is going on inside of a community before you jump in.  Make sure your contribution add to the conversation.
  • Be a human being - Be you and dont hide behind mask.  Use your picture in your profile not a corporate branding image or pictures of your kids or pets.  Be real, be you.  Let your contributions reflect who you are.
  • Commit to the conversation - Don't stop listening just because you are busy. Don't stop participating because you don't agree with someone. Relationships are not built in a day, be in it for the long haul and we will all reap the benefits as an industry.
  • Don't send abussive, obsessive or blatantly self promotional messages - Also don't share confidential membership list with anyone, unless thos on the list explicitaly agreed for you to do so.
  • Be professional in all of your interactions - Maintain boundries between your personal and professional life virtually, just as you would face to face.
  • Don't Shock the system - Lasting change only comes in baby steps.
  • Be smart. - Think before you speak, there are some conversations which have no benefit other than to reinforce stereotypes or create negative situations.
  • Make connection when there is a good reason, not randomly - Most communities will allow you to announce your presense mention your background and experiences.  However don't join a community just to build your roledex of prospects.  If you don't have a valid reson for connecting don't do it.
  • Know when to drop it - Some topics will only only result in problems when you discuss them.  You can talk about anything you want in your space but don't push controversy into someone else's.  At the same time if somethng that concerns you goes viral then people are watching your space too.

While this is not a hard fast set of guidlines it is just what I feel is a good starting point.  Please take time to add to this discussion and give your veiws too.  We are conting on it!!

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