The Enduring Power of Good Manners

handsSocial communities are just that-social. StumbleUpon, Sphinn, MySpace, FaceBook, and countless other channels are essentially places where people, ranging from like-minded allies to diametrically different provocateurs, congregate and intermingle.

Online communities mirror the physical world as we share, debate, and interact to the greater good of the collective. It’s all about getting along, making friends, and building networks through respectful and appropriate interactions. We are positively judged for good behavior and kicked off the island if we deserve a press of the dumb-ass button.

Manners Totally Matter
It’s astounding how social media vernacular is sometimes nearly devoid of traditional niceties like “please”, “congratulations”, and “thank you” in typical conversational syntax. Basic stuff our grandmothers taught us somehow seems unnecessary to many. However paying attention to time-honored etiquette warms potential friends’ and long-time associates’ hearts.

Manners still matter more than ever. Remember- these people you’re meeting can’t see your eyes, can’t hear the tone of your voice, and only have the words you type to base their feelings about you on.

Even more importantly an intentional commitment to good manners, as a technique, can quickly build networks and help you gain authority. Enough people lack civility that it’s easy to stand out simply by understanding the basics of being polite without overdoing it or being patronizing.

Manners Take Time.
While the “tactic” of good manners can take significantly more time than the normal run-and-gun Internet banter, the practice can pay serious dividends of friendships and votes at your disposal (diggs, sphinns, stumbles, etc…). As a general rule it’s always better to give more than take, ask people respectfully for what you want, and mark passages politely. Of course it’s impossible to partake in the techniques suggested below with every one of the tens of thousands of readers who visit your blog. Still it’s best-practice to establish new relationships and maintain core friendships with consistently good manners.

Respectful First Interactions
When you first approach someone you truly like, start by thanking them. Contact the person with a short note that says, “I’ve stumbled across your profile several times now. “Thank you for the content you bookmark which is consistently useful to me.” Sign your first name. Don’t promote your blog URL. (They’ll find it soon enough.) Usually the person writes you back. Thank him or her again for following up by saying that you “appreciate the note.”

Then make your first request: “Please remember to send me any content that matters to you so I help publicize it” This sets the table for later when you add the person to the rotation of friends you request endorsement from for content that matters to you.

11 Occasions Where Thoughtful Manners Help
When someone you don’t know visits your profile, contact them to say “thank you for visiting.”

If you pitch content for a vote, say “please consider this content and thank you in advance for your consideration.”

Drop notes to as many people whose myBlogLog badge you see on your website and thank them for stopping by. Visit their blog. Leave your picture behind.

When you get a vote, send a “thank you” note whenever possible. Obviously it’s not possible to thank thousands of voters but do as much as you can.

If you don’t get the vote, thank the person you pitched it to for considering it. Remind him or her that you’re always good for a vote.

Thank folks for comments on your post, especially negative ones.

Vote for comments that disagree with your position.

Send notes to those who disagree and thank for the constructive dialog.

If blogger A bookmarks Blogger B’s post and it makes a community’s homepage, congratulate B and thank him for sharing the content.

Thank others for bookmarking your content.

It should be said that practicing good manners solely as a tactic without being authentic does not work. Coming across as patronizing is worse than not practicing manners at all. However true warmth always shines through in the social media mainstream. Remember these people you’re meeting can’t see your face, can’t hear the tone of your voice, and only have the words you type to hold on to. Make them polite.


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