Leadership of any kind requires that we give more than we take. In our thought leadership coaching programmes, we encourage candidates to engage in fellow experts’ discussions through comments on articles or blog posts. Indeed, discussion and Q&A platforms such as LinkedIn groups and Quora were designed specifically to drive framed conversations.

We are often asked about comment etiquette. There are numerous compilations of tips covering this topic already available, from community sites such as Shareaholic, WordPress and Chempetitive. As we tend to deal exclusively with the B2B technology community, here is our take on what works.

  1. Mean well. What you say and how you say will reflect your intention. A community thrives on its members’ intention to forge relationships. For thought leaders, relationship building is a much more effective and rewarding way of attracting followers.
  2. Be specific. Personalised comments show authors and fellow readers that you are genuinely interested in the discussion. That you actually took the time to read what they wrote, to digest its meaning and to reflect on what it meant based on your own experience. Think about what compelled you to comment. For example, if you learnt something new, if you have a different perspective, or if you have a similar experience that will add to the discussion.
  3. Keep it short. Comments are designed to feed off the main article. Brevity will help maintain an easier flow of discussion. If you have several points to make, consider posting them as separate comments. Or maybe you have enough original ideas for your own piece on the topic?
  4. Maintain focus. This may seem obvious but appears difficult in real life. Staying on topic is as critical as being specific. Hijacking someone else’s article/ideas to promote your own will be destructive in the long haul.
  5. Stay classy. Do not link back to your online estate. Blatant self-promotion rarely attracts the right kind of followers. Let your views speak for themselves and people will find you through your professional bio. Give your potential followers the satisfaction of exerting some effort to find your normal online home.
  6. Be civilised. Even if you disagree with the perspective, it is never appropriate to be offensive in your comments. Rude remarks do not add any value to the exchange. They also damage the community and distract attention away from the core topic. Always remember to practice respectful disagreement and avoid personal attacks.

When a writer puts a lot of work into the ideas it is gratifying to have an appreciative and educative response. It is just as satisfying to support a topic with robust discussion. Have we missed any other useful reminders on comment etiquette?

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