Have you ever had someone tell you they were slammed with work, only to find their Facebook page full of frequent frivolous activity?

Or maybe you have been surprised by a rude, off-the-cuff remark on Twitter?

Social networking offers boundless potential for authors and writers to promote their works to a wide audience online. Just remember to avoid some common etiquette pitfalls.

  • Keeping a personalized touch makes all the difference. Let the Golden Rule govern your behavior online and treat people and situations as you would face to face:
  • Share — Provide valuable information that people can use. When I am networking online, I offer great content for free, whether it be seminars, newsletters or even articles that I find that would be interesting for the community.
  • Don’t just promote yourself — Engage with people online just as you would if you were building a business relationship in person. If someone comes in and all they want to do is promote, promote, promote, that approach is likely to go nowhere.
  • Be polite — People have a tendency to say things online they would never say face to face. I have seen instances where people on Twitter have a personal beef or a problem with a person and tweet it out publicly. Don’t say anything you would be embarrassed for your loved ones to read.
  • Don’t lower yourself — With electronic communication, whether email or social networking, there is no way to read facial expressions or body language. If there is a question about a person’s intentions, give them the benefit of the doubt rather than calling them out for being rude.
  • Be responsible — Not only for what you say, but for your time and your image. It will hurt your credibility if you tell people how busy you are and they see you taking those “Who am I?” and “5 Favorite” quizzes on Facebook everyday. When you are online you should assume everyone is watching and behave accordingly.
  • Don’t butt in — If you are participating in an online discussion, let other people have a chance to share their ideas and perspectives. Wait your turn and you will get your chance.
  • Have fun and be creative — Think of ways you can share information about your article, book, writing service or yourself that are fun and make people want to follow you.

These tips work because social networking is all about building community. Just like in the community you live in offline, the people who have credibility online who are those who engage others and provide value for the community.