Breaking down digital boundaries which limit human connection and authentic communication, is a the best way to standout in a sea of faceless start-ups. Old fashioned etiquette is a smart strategy for success and as we discover, the new armour for digital entrepreneurs.
Michaela Launerts, has extensive experience in Secondary Education as an English teacher and pastoral coordinator. Passionate about equipping others with the interpersonal skills needed to thrive in the Digital Age, she founded Etiquette & Co., a bespoke consulting service that empowers others to be confident across an array of social and professional situations. In her new book #Girlcode (New Holland Publishers, RRP $24.99), Launerts explores the forgotten art of etiquette and how to use it as a secret weapon for success.
The book speaks to emerging entrepreneurs, mostly Miss Millennials (but we found the content equally applicable to Mr Millennials) everywhere—the switched on social media generation who are lacking essential social skills for the real world. Helping develop the confidence needed to become the best version of yourself, providing the tools to interact with all sorts of people without the anxiety and awkwardness that seems to prevent us from achieving our personal goals.
In this technological age, competition for employment is fierce. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to be personable. Ironically, the social media phenomenon has led to a rapid decline in people’s social skills. We live in a time where face-to-face contact has been replaced with cyberspace presence and connecting with friends means disconnecting from reality. Now, more than ever, the need to learn how to behave in contemporary social and professional settings in order to be able to thrive within them is critical. If social skills are the building blocks of confidence and character, then the ability to communicate effectively is the VIP ticket to personal success.
What does etiquette for digital entrepreneurs look like?
While the new breed of digital entrepreneurs are often highly skilled in the digital landscape they are accustomed to, an absence of authentic, face to face interactions can result in a lack of understanding when it comes to the power of interpersonal skills. It’s those real life interactions that build confidence, character and the ability to successfully connect with people regardless of the platform. From networking to effective management and customer relations, soft skills are crucial when it comes to building a thriving business.
Successful entrepreneurship requires the ability to create a climate that promotes customer loyalty and ensures employees are inspired to work to their potential. Best performance, culture, shared vision and customer rapport can only be built on a foundation of strong interpersonal skills. In good news, once a person gains an understanding of the way we perceive certain behaviour, it becomes relatively easy to develop the soft skills needed to empower the savviest of techsperts in reaching their personal and professional goals.
Polished communication skills are a must across all interactions with employees and clients. Being courteous and well mannered promotes a culture of respect and productivity. Humans are social by nature, we subconsciously use our intuition to make our way through the world. The way we feel about certain situations, particular people and the way we make others feel impacts significantly on our experience, in turn, affecting our behaviour. It’s not surprising that the latest statistics point to customer experience, or CX, as being the cornerstone of success for digital entrepreneurs; as the saying goes, the way you make others feel after having had an interaction with you, becomes your trademark—online or otherwise.
Basic manners and etiquette are the ‘filters’ we use in real life to make ourselves look good. Simply put, conveying a positive attitude makes us attractive to others—you need to be approachable. This puts people, your people, at ease, which is a key factor in creating a productive culture and reputable brand. Ultimately you need to be able to make a confident, authentic impact in real life by utilizing what we already know about human interaction. It’s time to make friends with Decorum and Deportment.
While decorum (the way we behave) and deportment (the way we present ourselves) may be terms that have become lost in contemporary vernacular, as long as we remain in control of the technology, they are far from obsolete. By synthesizing our understanding of heritage skills with our ability to use technology to our advantage, building a professional image or brand becomes easy.
Implementing the Basics
First impressions are everything. Learn how to make a good one by perfecting your handshake, a powerful symbol of sincerity, confidence and character.
Don’t be afraid to sharpen your image if required. Does your appearance reflect the high standards and quality that are synonymous with your brand? If not, take into account the basic principles of professional dress and opt for a more conservative look if appropriate. If you want to be taken seriously, self respect always comes first. Stand out for the right reasons. If in doubt, go for clean, polished and pressed.
Ensure your people have a thorough understanding of good old-fashioned customer service skills and use them in their daily interactions including all face-to-face, email and phone correspondence. Set the standard by modelling high quality interactions.
Broaden your horizons. Become familiar with the principles of international business and dining etiquette so that your interactions aren’t limited (or thwarted) by conduct that could be deemed inappropriate by your international peers.
Across all your professional correspondence, be exactly that, direct, grammatically correct, clear and courteous. Don’t waste others’ time by sending or forwarding any content that is irrelevant and ensure your responses are prompt and informative. Address every point or concern raised to avoid communication lag.
Keep your personal life and your professional life completely separate across all social media and professional networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. A clean digital footprint is a must when it comes to reputation, so save the selfies for your personal account and ensure maximum privacy settings are in place.
The content you post on online is public and permanent. Ensure you have a good command of formal English so that your expression reflects the quality of your brand.
Never underestimate the power you have over the way you are perceived by others. You are always in complete control. Up-skill if you need to. Bespoke etiquette training programs such as those offered by Etiquette & Co. can be used to train or retrain your people in order that they continue to reflect the high standards of your brand.
Oh and remember, the neo-luddites and digital exiles aren’t against you, they’re cheering you on from the sidelines. Harness the power of charisma and you’ll not only bridge the gap that exists but completely remove the lid that may be tightly screwed on your potential for growth.