Google+ hangouts are da bomb, but one rude participant can ruin it for everyone! Whether you’re socializing to make new friends or brainstorming with experts, there are some basic rules of etiquette to consider.
1. Minimize unnecessary noise.
Put the dogs outside, put your phone on vibrate, tell your mother not to scream you name from across the room, don’t bounce that squeaky chair, and don’t click pencils or wrestle with papers. If you are lucky enough to be participating in a hangout interview, then mute your mic until you are called on or given the opportunity to speak up. If someone else mutes you, don’t start a “mutiny” of muting others back. Use the chat window to ask why you were muted and then fix the problem.
Why? Because every noise gets picked up by hangouts and hangouts uses noise to determine who should appear in the big window as actively talking. Unnecessary noises distract, interrupt, and can even toss you into the big window when others are the ones trying to talk.
2. Be engaged.
Don’t jump into a hangout and then turn off your camera so you can work while you listen (unless everyone else is okay with that). It’s one thing to step away to answer a call or to attend to a child. It’s another thing to turn sideways and go on with your day as if you expect to be entertained.
Why? Because ignoring others in the hangout is akin to attending a dinner party and nodding to the person across the table while the person next to you is trying to engage you.
3. Don’t hijack a hangout.
Even though Google doesn’t give any special powers to the initiator of a hangout, you should be respectful of the originator. Don’t switch topics if others are engaged in current conversation, or monopolize conversation once you get in. If you and another person start an energizing conversation that isn’t involving others, start a hangout and continue there.
Why? Hijacking a hangout will get you uncircled and even blocked. The purpose of a hangout is to interact with others who you might want to add to your network, court as a potential client, use as a resource, or include in a business venture. Whatever your reason, making a good first impression is usually a requirement.
4. Keep your clothes on.
Yes, this really has to be pointed out to some people. Keep your shirt on, don’t whip it out, and keep sexual comments to yourself unless other participants are on board. If you are hoping to get lucky, start your own hangout and restrict minors from joining.
Why? You can get into a whole lot of trouble engaging in sexual activity with a minor. Even if you only get a little raunchy, it isn’t in good taste. Many people join hangouts to make professional connections, not happy endings. Also see rule #6 and imagine if someone didn’t follow it and posted your activities on YouTube.
5. Know when to leave.
Sometimes you can just tell you aren’t welcome. If you jump into a hangout and realize this, ask if they would prefer you leave. If they say no, stay long enough to make a connection, but read the body language to know when you should say goodbye.
Why? Sometimes people mistakenly post a hangout as public or extended circles when they really intended to keep it closed. Staying in this case might be keeping them from talking business. Leaving gives you an opportunity to show you are an ideal candidate for future hangouts. You may even get circled by new folks.
6. Don’t record anything without permission.
It’s tempting to record conversations to refer back to, but before you do you should make everyone aware that you are doing so. Also keep in mind that others may be willing to allow you to record for your own reference, but not to be shared with the public. To be safe — ask first.
Why? Recording without the explicit permission of those in attendance is not only rude, it is prohibited and/or illegal in some countries.
7. Consider following-up.
This isn’t really a point of etiquette, but it’s a good idea. If you go to your profile page after a hangout, all of the participants you hung out with are listed. You can circle interesting people, and even to thank them for the fun in a comment. Calling people by name makes it even more special
Why?Others can see who you hung out with. Making comments about how much fun you had catches the interest of other people who may ultimately check out your profile or connect with you.
Interestingly, it is perfectly acceptable to hold a sidebar conversation in the chat box of a hangout. In fact, during live hangouts on air participants frequently mute their mics and then chat with each other and the featured guest. These chats often redirect discussion without interrupting the guest who is sharing.
So now that you have a handle on how to behave in a hangout, have some fun! Jump in and build your social network, meet some cool people, and expand your thinking. Want to get your feet wet first? Feel free to invite BrowneKnows to a hangout!