Downton Abbey Meets LinkedIn: 10 Etiquette Tips for Networking and Teatime
July 17, 2013 - Posted by Angela von Weber-Hahnsberg
Oh, don’t you wish you could step back in time and live in the world of Downton Abbey, just for a little while? The sumptuous clothes, the breath-taking estates, the elegant dinners… It’s all so different from our approach to life today.
But not everything from Edwardian England has completely disappeared. We still enjoy a lovely cup of tea now and again, and it’s still important to mind your manners. The situations we use those good manners for may have changed, but the rules themselves have basically stayed the same.
For example, teatime etiquette can easily be applied to online marketing etiquette. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at this guide to minding your manners on LinkedIn:
1. Mind your P’s and Q’s. (Or in this case, your I’s.) Sometimes good manners lie in the little things – like proper capitalization and punctuation. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, so be sure to spell it ‘LinkedIn’ rather than ‘Linkedin.’ Even though the logo has a lowercase ‘i,’ the AP Stylebook (aka The Miss Manners of Writing) insists on a capital.
2. Not everyone likes cream and sugar. Sure, everyone covets those recommendations and endorsements, but sending out a mass request for them just isn’t the done thing. Ask if your connections want cream or sugar by personalizing your requests. And while you’re being polite, don’t outright tell them what to endorse you for – instead, ask them to take a look at your skills and see if there are any they feel they can endorse or recommend you for. The dowager countess would be pleased with your tact.
3. Never discuss politics or religion at a tea party. (Even if you’re an Irish Republican.) Whether you’re at a tea party, or a dinner party, or networking professionally online, there are certain topics you just don’t bring up. In a social situation, it’s anything potentially controversial, like religion or politics. But in an online environment for professionals, it’s anything too personal or informal – like pictures of your cat, or that hilarious story about what happened to you last weekend. Save those topics for Facebook, and keep your LinkedIn account focused on your work.
4. Be witty, but proper. Sparkling conversation is always welcome in any situation – but be careful not to mistake tasteless for funny. Something you might have no problem sharing with friends on Facebook could be image-ruining on LinkedIn. Just think to yourself: What would Lady Mary say? (Or the Earl of Grantham.)
5. Send personalized invitations to tea. Want to connect with someone on LinkedIn? Whatever you do, don’t send the generic invitation email. Instead, give the invite your own personalized touch – tell the person why you’d like to connect, or what you have in common. Or maybe you could enclose some pressed wildflowers – whatever works.
6. Put on that hat and gloves. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you always want to look your best – and to dress appropriately. You’d dress up to go to tea at a friend’s house, so be sure to put a professional-looking picture of yourself on your LinkedIn profile. That snapshot of you on vacation may be fun, but is that really the image you want to project?
7. Don’t embellish the truth. Don’t embroil your LinkedIn page in an O’Brien-worthy intrigue. It’s one thing to change “janitor” to “custodial engineer.” It’s another to make up past positions or experience.
8. Don’t dominate the conversation. It’s the height of bad manners to bombard everyone at tea with your stories, without letting anyone get a word in edgewise. And it’s just as bad to overload your connections’ LinkedIn feeds with your posts. Share articles or blog posts once a day at most, or you might annoy potential clients.
9. No gossiping at teatime! We know, we know, even the dowager countess herself indulges in a little gossip now and again…okay, a lot. All the time. But she can get away with it – she’s Maggie Smith, for heaven’s sake! We poor mortals, on the other hand, should avoid any sort of bashing on our feeds or in our groups. It just looks unprofessional.
10. Should you invite strangers to tea? While the usual rule is to only have tea with people you know, every once in a while, it’s permissible to invite a complete stranger, if there is a compelling reason for them to accept. Maybe you admire someone’s work, and would love to add them as a connection – they would probably be honored by the request. Just make sure to serve extra clotted cream with those scones, to make it worth his time.