Last week we received a note from a contractor stating that he was having problems subscribing to our newsletter. Devon responded, but unfortunately her email bounced back as a mail delivery failure, stating it was marked as possible spam. That’s unusual since he contacted us first, but not a problem.

The problem? The contractor included an obscene comment in his automated response. It wasn’t just obscene – it was filthy, not something I’d ever want to read and I’m pretty crusty. I can’t imagine any reason to use the language he used.

Now, if your a reasonable person, you’re smart enough to know that’s a mistake. Along with being just plain rude, this contractor is also running the risk of sending obscenities to a potential client, ending any possibility of future work with them.

Why are we telling you about it?

You’ve read that employers watch places like Facebook, LinkedIn and other forums to see what potential employees have posted. If a potential hire posts foul language or something they might consider a possible character issue, the employer knows this might be a problem employee.

The same holds true with the buying public. Before hiring a contractor or anyone else, they’ll search for information about you on the internet. They’ll search websites and posts on forums to get an idea of what kind of company and/or individual you are long before they call on the phone. The Houzz report we referenced recently showed that the buying public is as concerned with your personality as they are with your expertise. They want to know if you’ll be easy for them to get along with.

Here’s the catch. If you live in the U.S., you know that our country is becoming more divided. People are taking sides politically, and in some cases, it gets downright nasty. If you take part in these discussions and it tracks back to your business, even if you’re polite it can cause you problems. And it’s easy for that to happen.

I’m all for expressing your opinion. I have a few of my own, just ask. But since we’re willing to do business with anyone, regardless of their political stance, religious beliefs, or personal lifestyle, I try to keep my opinions to myself. And if you’re smart you’ll do the same.

Facebook. Keep your postings general and social, or make sure your personal Facebook identity is as private and secure as possible. Use a separate Facebook account for your business, and let your business acquaintances “friend” you there. The same goes for Twitter.

Disqus. We use a popular commenting system on our website called Disqus, which is used by many other websites.

Please – we want your comments. If our words have helped you, please help us by sharing a few good words on our website. But do it carefully. We allow guest comments on our website, but many other websites don’t, they require a Disqus account. If you post using a Disqus account, anyone can click on your name and see what else you’ve posted, anywhere you’ve posted it.

Here’s an example of how a guest post appears differently than a post from an account – (bottom of the page). With the Disqus account, by clicking on the name or photo you can see all other posts, including those on other websites.

There are advantages to having a Disqus account and the biggest advantage is including your website in the account. If you visit places where you can make business-related comments that will reflect well on you and link back to your own website, you should do it! Among other things, it’s SEO juice for your website.

But when you feel inclined to visit political or other websites and make comments that someone might disagree with, use a separate Disqus account that is solely for your personal opinions. And make sure the two accounts don’t meet.

You don’t want to lose business because of a comment that you post or email. Even if you think it’s hidden in a dark corner where no one will find it, it can cause a problem, so take it down if possible. This stuff has a way of creeping out into the public eye and your business can suffer because of it.

Here is a good rule of thumb: never say anything in writing that you wouldn’t say to your mom or your 8-year-old daughter. If you follow that rule, you’ll almost always be safe. If you’re getting emotional or angry about something, wait at least 24 hours before you respond.

Make people want to do business with you. If you have an argument or a battle to win, argue it in person. Don’t do it in writing. And be nice.

Personal Note:

Many of you send us private emails telling us thank you for something we’ve done, or explaining how much one of our products has helped you. We appreciate every comment, but we would REALLY appreciate it if you’d make those comments public!

Thank you!

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