Last night I attended a wonderful dinner hosted by Dietitian Connection. Together with 20 other dietitians, we learned about the “power of reinvention” from Karen Inge, one of the most enthusiastic and inspiring business woman I have ever met. The venue was beautiful, the food was superb and the most enjoyable part of the night was the flow of interesting conversation, of course helped in part by the flow of excellent wine!

Dietitian Dinner Party

The sharing of ideas got me thinking….why is it that some dinner party conversations flow so well, yet some conversations on social media fall flat or even worse, turn quite ugly?

I believe this often happens because those taking part in the online conversations don’t seem to follow the same rules that they automatically apply during dinner party conversations.

The best conversations (whether they involve wine or not) are those that make one see things from another person’s perspective and be enlightened by different view points, even if they differ to your own.

If you want to truly engage online, apply these dinner party conversation rules to your online conversations too.

1. Share something about yourself. When you meet someone new at a dinner party, you generally introduce yourself and provide a little background. There is nothing worse than getting a LinkedIn request from a complete stranger that you cannot place in context. An online introduction with a name and title only does not bode well as a conversation starter.

2. Give your opinion. Rather than just retweeting or hitting the share button, add in a comment as to why you agree or disagree or what you think about the topic of discussion. Different opinions make for much more interesting conversation rather than just repeating what someone else has said.

3. Don’t leave the conversation when it’s only just begun. When you truly connect with someone at a dinner party, you will usually make an effort to see that person again. When you identify your online influencers, reach out to them on a regular basis and nurture the relationship just like you would with your off-line networks.

4. Don’t be rude – it’s that simple! Share your opinion even if you disagree with someone else, but always be polite. Most people have enough social skills to avoid being rude to someone else at a dinner party, yet it amazes me how nasty people can get when they disagree with someone else on social media. If you follow the dinner party etiquette of respect for all, you are more likely to gain respect for your opinions and thoughts, even if others share a different viewpoint.

5. Be natural and be yourself. As we get older and wiser (hopefully!) you realize that the only way to make and keep friends is through authenticity. The best dinner party guest is the one who shares, laughs and enjoys themselves. Next time you get involved in a social media conversation, use this dinner party approach and you’ll be sure to make new friends and have fun doing it!

What other rules do you think should be followed when engaging in on-line conversations?