Say “I Do” to Dating in a Digital World

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Let’s face it. We live online. Sometimes it’s for fun, but many times, business demands it. Gone are the days of the 9-5 work schedule. Blackberries, iPhones, location based apps and other technologies have made us available 24/7. But while your boss may love that you answer emails at all hours of the night, it can make dating tough. Excusing yourself from a first date to take a work call isn’t ideal, and your friends probably frown on tweeting from their wedding. So by staying connected, you may actually be distancing yourself from the world. Which makes it hard to secure a second (or first!) date.

Unless, of course, you find a partner who understands the way you live and work. Who won’t be bothered by the clacking of a keyboard in bed. But where do you find such a specimen? Easy. At work! What once was taboo is far more accepted, and honestly, expected. So feel free to mix business with pleasure–in moderation, of course.

The trick to making it work? Using digital technology effectively to help maintain a stable work/life balance. Trust me, it can be done. My husband and I met at work. Then we got married, tweeted our vows and wrote a book together. So we know that your soulmate is most likely sitting in the next cubicle, and how to walk the fine line between flirting and stalking online.

A Few Ground Rules

1.) Keep It Casual. Start with office hour lunch excursions, or in-person talks instead of email. Establish a professional friendship before you try for more. This give you an easy out if the conversation stalls, while also allowing a chance to find out what interests you have in common outside of the office.

2) Friend First, Facebook Later. Don’t immediately start adding them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Ease in with LinkedIn, a professional network, and an IM chat program. This allows for comfortable chatting without stares from coworkers. And when you do add them to Facebook? Do a quick check of your Privacy Settings to make sure they don’t see anything you wouldn’t post on the conference room wall.

3) Safety In Numbers. For your first after-work outing, enlist the help of fellow colleagues and make it a group thing. Look for a fun happy hour spot nearby, and don’t bring friends from outside of works. And above all else, know your limits. Getting too drunk this early in the game is not a good idea.

4) Make Your Move. But tread lightly. By now you should be able to tell if they like you or not, so it’s time to set up a real date. Plan it for a Saturday somewhere away from the office to really distance yourself from coworker gossip and work associations. But don’t feel like work talk is completely off limits. It’s a safe subject you can both relate to–just make sure it’s not the only topic of the night.

5) Don’t Bring The Office Home. Yes, you got together because you spend a lot of time together at work and both understand the way today’s digital world works. But beware of bring too much home with you. Try not to argue over client demands or quarterly projections at home, and don’t argue over who’s on dishwasher duty at the office.

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the tricky waters of dating a coworker. Want to know more? Vote for my panel as SXSWi. My former coworker and current husband, Dan Zarrella, and I will be sharing stories and offering advice on how to turn a professional relationship into a personal one without driving yourself (or your coworkers) crazy.

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To delete, or not to delete? That is the question.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

We’ve all seen them. Chances are, you may have even be guilty of writing a few yourself. You know what I’m talking about: Facebook complaints. These dreaded negative posts put fear in the hearts of many a Facebook Page Admin. Some are carefully crafted, artfully worded in their scathing anger and perfect punctuation. Some are posted in the heat of the moment, often from a mobile app, riddled with typos and misguided capitalization. Still others take the tactic of seasoned parents everywhere, expressing disappointment and remorse over a ruined occasion, as opposed to anger.

Don’t Delete Negative Facebook Posts

Mistakes happen. Facebook Pages represent real life entities with fallible humans manning the phone lines, taking orders and offering assistance. Not everything will always run smoothly. But still, it’s tempting to project an air of perfection on Facebook by whitewashing Wall comments and deleting negative posts. But is that really the best strategy?

Think about it from a user’s perspective. If you just posted a complaint and are hoping for some type of resolution, seeing that your comment has been deleted is probably going to make you even angrier, which could lead to even more negative posts. And if you’re browsing the Page to help with a purchasing decision, doesn’t 100% positive feedback look a little fishy?

Resolve Issues Outside of Facebook

For brands, the best bet is to respond to negative posts as quickly as possible and try to find a way to resolve issues offline. Most negative posts involve unique or personal situations that you don’t want to discuss publicly on a Facebook Wall. Provide an email address or phone number for them to contact, or ask them to send their contact information to a specific email address you have control of. If your Facebook Page is tied to a personal account, you can also use it to send a private message.

If they are angry at a more general issue or policy and you have an answer that will benefit everyone on the Wall, feel free to post publicly. Either way, this shows all of your Facebook fans that you are committed to customer service and care enough about them to follow up on issues. And by all means, comment on the positive posts too! People love to know that they are being heard, for better or worse, and responding will keep them coming back for more.

Create Your Own Rules…and Stick to ‘Em

Of course, there are a few types of comments you are justified in deleting. Obscene, harassing or otherwise inappropriate language should be removed, as well as threats or spam. What’s inappropriate? That’s for you to decide. Develop a policy for Wall posting, and stick to it. You may even want to publish it somewhere, so you can reference it when dealing with negative commenters.

Above all else, remember to take a deep breath and calm down before you respond in any way. Get as many facts as you can and take your time crafting a response. You want to respond promptly, but don’t rush. The more you know before you reply, the smoother your resolution will be. And try not to take it personally. Chances are, their issue is not with you. Don’t be personally offended, but do be involved enough to see the resolution through to the end.

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