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Internet, and professional, friendliness

Every once in a while I read on the internet that someone says that *people aren't as friendly in real life as they are online*. This concerns me, and frankly creeps me out a bit, because the person writing this probably doesn't know about professional friendliness. Please let me explain.

I consider myself a friendly person. I say hello to my neighbors, I pass the time of day with people who work at grocery stores, restaurants, etc. But I am a professional, and there is a clearly-marked line. If someone tries to step over it, even unintentionally, they can feel the chill.

The internet, like a classroom, or a professional conference room, is a place where people are brought together for a purpose that goes beyond mere socializing. But that doesn't mean that socializing is thrown out of the window! Immediately tapping on your clipboard and getting right down to business is just rude. You should say hello. Smile. You can even comment on the weather. Even on the internet.

When your friendliness starts to cross the line, you will become creepy. And the biggest line is asking someone to step out of the boundaries of the meeting place, whether it be an office in a building, or a discussion on Google+. *Let's meet for dinner*, or *give me your email/telephone number*, unless you are actually asking for a date, is not just being friendly, it's just being creepy.

However, sometimes people will want to meet with you privately. If you don't give them an opportunity to do so, you are really setting yourself up for some creepy behavior. If you are a celebrity, give people the information that they need to contact your agent. If you are a teacher, give your students a way to get in touch through the school's system. If you are a professional, give people your website address and be sure to have a contact page. And here is the most important part - respond! If people don't get a response, then you are encouraging them to track you down some other way. Creepy.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with meeting *in real life*. In fact, it may be the best thing that you do to enhance your professional image. Here in the Phoenix area, I strongly advise attending a Creative Connect meeting. If you're not sure what professional friendliness looks like, talk to my friend Dan Semenchuk.