Think Before You Type

Around the world, countries have implemented social distancing measures. Online communication has now become more important than ever. From webinars and podcasts, to virtual meetings and face-timing your colleagues, clients, family and friends.

For many of us the amount of time we spend online has increased, and we are discovering a new way to interact with people through our screens.

On the whole, there has been a lot of positivity. The strength and resilience of people to stay home and protect the more vulnerable members of society is something we will hopefully be able to look back on with pride.

Through necessity, we have seen those who traditionally have shied away from technology begin to embrace it. And the results have been admirable.

But there is one place where we have seen many people still getting it wrong…

LinkedIn.

In some ways, there has always been an element of danger with encouraging people to use LinkedIn. Over 75% of the UK’s working population has a LinkedIn account, yet it’s still sometimes a bit of a mystery, a social networking site, but one purely for professionalism.

There are quite a few cliché LinkedIn mistakes that have always existed. From inappropriate profile pictures to humblebrags (you’ve seen the type posting about his 5am work out, dropping the kids to school and making it to the office all time, accompanied by a picture of him in front of his brand new sports car), sloppy spelling mistakes and those users who collect contacts like they are Pokémon cards. You can see some of the worst offenders on The State of LinkedIn.

But recently, there has been a rise in a different type of user. The user who doesn’t think before they type.

There are lots of conversations taking place online about the situation we see ourselves in. It has been particularly difficult for the construction industry, with advice changing regularly. Many of us have our own view on how this situation should be handled and what the right and wrongs of the situation are.

But is LinkedIn really the place to engage in this sort of discussion?

We never want to discourage people from using social media, using it is one of the ways we make a living. Used well, it can be an outstanding way to communicate, particularly when physical meetings are off-limits.

Usually, our advice for those worried about what to say is to relax a little and be themselves. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about what you are posting before you post it. How might others interpret your words? Would they be appropriate if you were hosting a meeting with a room of potential clients?

We’ve spotted a few posts recently that seem to be lacking in empathy. Or those that perhaps might be something you may say to friends, but shouldn’t be repeated in a professional context. Some have been pretty outrageous.

Remember, when you comment on a post on LinkedIn, you never know who might see it. Think about the language you use. Would you use that language in a professional environment? Re-read what you’ve written and consider how it may be viewed from the perspective of all others. Ask yourself whether your comments are something you would be proud of if someone printed them out and showed them to you in the future.

Don’t forget your LinkedIn contacts are not just your friends. They are your colleagues and clients, both present and future.

Of course this advice doesn’t only apply in the current situation, and inappropriate comments are not a new phenomenon. But whilst we are all a little more active online right now, this could be a great moment to double check what we’re all writing.