Updated: Oct 2, 2019
It might seem like a given to behave professionally in the office; dress appropriately, practice good phone etiquette, communicate clearly with your patients and staff, etc. However, often overlooked is the importance of professionalism in the digital space. It is just as important to behave professionally online as it is in person, and in today’s digital age, sometimes even more so.
Email is Not Texting: Use full sentences and words in the body of every professional email, as well as proper capitalization and grammar. Do not use emoticons or text abbreviations (such as “thx,” “lol,” “k,” etc.). Virtually all email services today have built in spell check, so make use of it! Spelling errors and text-speak make you look extraordinarily unprofessional, and not very intelligent.
Respond Promptly: Like phone calls, business and professional emails need to be responded to promptly, within 48 hours if possible. If there is any reason for delaying a response beyond that time, be sure to inform the person of that reason, and follow up.
Use a Professional Signature using your email program; it instantly gives your email recipients context of the individual and company they are speaking with, adds a significant professional touch, and provides them with your contact information if you choose to add it. Plus, it saves you a bit of time, and when you have dozens of emails to respond to, that bit of time adds up to quite a lot!
Use professional greetings and complimentary closes: Never start a business email with a “Hi” (unless you’ve already built a familiar relationship with the person over time), and never open with a “Dear,” - it is too familiar. Use a simple “Hello [name],” or the person’s name alone to open your professional emails. Choose a short, simple and complimentary close, such as “All the best,” or “Sincerely,”; stay far away from “Love,” or any text-speak abbreviation like “TTYL.”
Being Professional on Social Media
Keep your personal and business social media accounts separate. For example, if you are on Facebook and want to use that platform to promote your business as well, you should have a separate Facebook business page from your personal one. LinkedIn is one of the few exceptions to this rule because it is built to be a network solely for professionals.
Think Before You Post: “Do I want this following me around for the rest of my life?” No matter how fun a night was, it’s probably not a good idea to post pictures of yourself deep under the influence. It’s also not a good idea to post/share off-color or obscene comments or jokes (sexist, racist, etc.). A steadily increasing number of businesses and government agencies are data mining social media, and you don’t want those stupid posts from way back when to jeopardize your current or future business success! The same applies to the comments and reactions you have to other people’s posts and pages. Though everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion, you should choose which opinions you “like” or share carefully. Keep in mind that some of your opinions may alienate potential patients and clients.
Post Professionally on Your Professional Pages: This should be a given, but foul or crass language, off-color jokes, obscene remarks and offensive photos and videos have no place on professional pages. When in doubt, don’t post it!
Using Social Media to Reach Your Customers: Choose 1-2 main platforms, post regularly and professionally, and be responsive. Use conversational and polite language when responding to comments and messages, using proper capitalization, spelling and grammar. Keep in mind that anyone can see your comments and posts, and current and prospective patients will make judgments about your business based on them!
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