Skip Navigation 
Associations Now

Vendor Etiquette: Online Community Dos and Don'ts

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, December 2012 Technology

By: Beth Ziesenis

Summary: Follow these tips to learn the art of participation rather than promotion in online communities. (Titled "Vendor Etiquette" in the print edition.)

Many online communities' terms and conditions forbid self-promotion, but industry vendors and consultants can still provide valuable resources for the professional community, say online managers like Kristi Donovan, CAE, senior director of professional affairs at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. The trick is to help them understand the difference between promotion and participation, she says.

And sometimes members need the same education. Donovan remembers a time she received a complaint from a member about an author who had been talking about material from his book in a forum.

"The gentleman was offering information that would be helpful to our membership, saying things like, 'I've addressed this in my textbook, and here's what we're doing at our institution,'" she says. "He mentioned the book, but he certainly wasn't trying to sell it. People were carrying on a conversation around it."

Donovan worked to educate the complaining member about how she, too, could share insights from her own book without crossing the line.

"If you see a conversation where it's relevant to bring up some expertise, you are welcome to share with them," Donovan told her.

Could your vendors use a little encouragement to join the conversation—and some ground rules? Share these five dos and don'ts to get them started:

  1. Do connect. Don't collect. Make connections, have discussions, and share resources, but don't spend your time collecting names and trying to force relationships. You'll reap more benefits in the long run by giving to the community instead of taking.
  2. Do discuss. Don't disparage. An online community may be open to all, including your competitors. Refrain from making negative comments about other companies or different points of view.
  3. Do participate. Don't sit back. Start discussions, chime in on conversations, find people with similar interests. The more you put into the community, the more you'll get out of it.
  4. Do listen and respond. Don't give speeches. Take the time to respond to other people's comments, rather than stating your position and leaving.
  5. Do seek colleagues. Don't stalk clients. Some online community members prefer to interact with peers. If you reach out without success, don't keep pushing. You should have plenty of opportunities to find people who want to interact.

Beth Ziesenis is the author of Upgrade to Free: The Best Free and Low-Cost Online Tools and Apps. Email: beth@askbethz.com

Rate this item: Comments:
Rate this item:
  • one star
  • two stars
  • three stars
  • four stars
  • five stars

Please Sign in to rate this.
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star

  Edward Barks , March 05, 2013
The "vendor" headline is a total turn-off in a publication intended for consultants. ASAE's Consultants Section Council has worked long and hard to erase the image of consultants as vendors or commodity suppliers. This article pushes those efforts several steps back. I realize it is a reprint from "Associations Now." Still, it reflects an editorial tin ear.




 

Community Education Resources Career Advocacy About Us Join Shop
Collaborate
Volunteer Groups
Calendar
Face-to-Face
ASAE U Online
Associations Now
Models & Samples
Research
Find a Job
Post a Job
CAE

Press
Board of Directors
Standards of Conduct
Get Started
Get Connected
Get Involved
Bookstore
Buyers' Guide
Endorsed Business Solutions

border

American Society of Association Executives™ (ASAE), 1575 I St. NW, Washington, DC 20005
P. 888.950.2723, F. 202.371.8315 or P. 202.371.0940 (in Washington, DC)
© Copyright 2011 ASAE. All rights reserved.

Social Media | Advertise | ASAE Foundation | Site Map | Contact Us | Privacy Notice
Supplier Partner Corner
X
Find:  Resources  |  Events  |  Jobs  |  ASAE Staff  |  Endorsed Business Solutions  |  Buyer's Guide  |  Members  |  Give Back   |  Help  |  Home
linked in Twitter Feed Facebook Group Flickr Group YouTube Channel Collaborate