If you've been navigating the Internet for any length of time, at some point, you'll no doubt encounter a flame war, some fisking, or a good old fashioned comment stream smackdown.
At times, it's difficult not to allow our emotions to get the best of us and get caught up in the fray. However, as real estate professionals, and people whose livelihood/business is heavily dependent upon the nature of our online presence, the manner in which we respond to such situations needs to be tempered by calm civility, and a high concern for ethical integrity. And ultimately, by the impact our actions/words may possibly have on our readers (clients and potential clients).
Allow me to share five lessons/observations to help you better manage your online behavior:
1. Passion should be tempered with Prudence – let’s face it, most of the folks operating within the RE.net space are extremely passionate people. They’re passionate about their careers, they’re passionate about their clients, they’re passionate about social media & technology, and they’re especially passionate about their friends. Unfortunately, there are times when our loyalty and love for friends can overshadow and cloud our ability to use sound judgment and reason. While it’s an admirable trait to have your friend’s back and rush quickly to their defense, emotions can impair rational thought and prevent us from exercising caution before acting.
2. Freedom of Speech demands Responsible Speech – social media has provided each of us with a voice that empowers us to connect and communicate quickly with a potentially vast audience. Such freedom doesn’t necessarily grant us the license to say whatever we want to say, whenever we want to say it. As business professionals, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard than most. This dictates that we conduct ourselves with civility and integrity. Just as we strive to maintain a consistent reputation for ethical behavior in our business practices, so should we strive to maintain a similar reputation in our on-line activities/conversations. This doesn't mean that we can't have a personal opinion or viewpoint, just when and where it's appropriate/wise to voice/share such things.
3. Keep it Professional, not Personal - There’s no shortage of opinions and viewpoints in social media. Bloggers, especially, tend to be rather outspoken and opinionated. However, it’s one thing to suggest that a person’s behavior or actions are stupid or idiotic, but quite another to accuse that person of being stupid or an idiot. In expressing our opinions, we need to be careful not to cross the line over into character assassination, defamation, or personal slander/attack.
4. Social Media isn’t Holding Hands Singing 'Kumbaya' – the transition to the new social media is challenging for many, to say the least. Even fairly sedate platforms like Facebook can become somewhat adversarial at times. To expect everyone to be kind, objective, and play fair in the on-line sandbox is unrealistic. This certainly isn’t an excuse for people to act like a horse’s behind on a social network, but simply an understanding that not every conversation you encounter will be filled with hugs and warm fuzzies.
5. Be Careful What You Say - Recognize that everything you say online becomes part of the digital record, and as such, comes with a very long shelf life. In addition, anything you do or say online can be spread extremely fast, and the reputation you took so long to build can be destroyed with the click of a mouse.
"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him." ~Leo Aikman
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Rich Jacobson is a licensed real estate professional with Windermere Real Estate, providing knowledgeable empowerment and relentless representation for his clients of residential properties and vacant land throughout all of Kitsap County WA and portions of Pierce, Mason, and Jefferson Counties. You can also find him at KitsapLife.com, SoundBiteBlog, and Crabbing in the Hood, or e-mail: email@example.com