After we finish our schooling, many of us inevitably find that it becomes much more difficult to meet and connect with people. We can meet people through work, church, our children, local networking, and so on, but often it is the local networking that can be most fruitful. We all need to be involved and be personable, but we also need to understand that, when it comes to professional realms, there are very clear boundaries that must be respected in order to keep healthy relations.
I am a people person. I enjoy meeting new people all of the time. If you are like me, you also seem to collect some relationships from areas of your life where people are available to provide a service. This may include teachers, doctors, attorneys, designers, groomers, mechanics, hair dressers, manicurists, restaurant owners, staff, and more. It is not difficult to connect with others if you extend your kindness and it is a pleasure to find people of like minds. Professionals can and do connect with clients, but understandably there is some hesitancy. There may be office or legal policies against it, or they may have concerns about showing favoritism or about clients abusing the privilege to connect with them. Even so, this lesson in etiquette is about preserving the boundaries of respect (which works both ways) in your quest for refinement.
For many people, this is common sense but here are some pointers:
- It is fine for you to extend a request and very occasional messages, but never discuss your professional relationship online or with others and avoid matters regarding his or her profession. If you connected, chances are that you have other things in common; focus on those other topics.
- Do not expect or request friendly discounts. Resist the offer and pay in full even if those friendly discounts are offered to you.
- Unless previously discussed, avoid friending his or her family or other contacts.
- Do not expect special treatment or favoritism.
- Do not use the platform as way to have around-the-clock access to this person.
- Do not seek contact with this person in order to make appointments or to ask for medical or other advice. If you need advice, call the office during business hours and make an appointment.
- Do not profile-stalk this person or like or comment on every post he or she makes.
- Do not make posts that ask for or hint about needing his or her help or advice.
- The less you share about your personal issues and crusades, the more positive the interaction.
- Be mindful about the content you share. Make sure your posts are in good taste and remember that less is more. Everyone will appreciate it!
Maintaining personal and professional boundaries is good for everyone. Remember the post about online etiquette? Overwhelming others with your beliefs is not only rude and inconsiderate, but your beliefs are no one else’s business. A lot of professionals deal with problems all day; make their connection with you a positive one!
Danica De La Mora