Here are Selling Power’s recommended guidelines for companies and their employees to keep in mind when getting started in social networking: * Rule #1: You are responsible. As an employee, you will be held personally responsible for any content you publish on blogs, Wikis, or any other form of user-generated media. * Rule #2: Protect your privacy. Never forget that what you publish online is public. Do not share elements of your personal life that you do not wish to become public. * Rule #3: Identify yourself. If you’re discussing anything that’s relevant to your job, make sure you identify yourself and, if appropriate, the role you play there. * Rule #4: Don’t be a spokesman. While you may express your opinion, make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the firm. * Rule #5: Use a disclaimer. If you’re posting on an outside site, be sure to add, “This posting doesn’t necessarily represent my employer’s positions, strategies, or opinions.” * Rule #6: Follow the rules. Respect copyright, fair use, and financial disclosure laws, and don’t provide confidential or other proprietary information. * Rule #7: Don’t tell tales out of school. Always ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to the firm. * Rule #8: Respect other brand names. Don’t annoy clients, partners, or suppliers by citing them in your posts without their prior approval. * Rule #9: Be generous with your links. If you obtain permission to discuss other companies in your post (see rule #8), be sure to include a link to the Website. * Rule #10: Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace. * Rule #11: Keep your cool. Show proper consideration for others’ privacy and topics that may be considered inflammatory, such as politics and religion. * Rule #12: Think of your career. If you identify yourself as an employee, make sure your profile and content matches how you wish to look to colleagues and clients. * Rule #13: Don’t act like a troll. Never pick fights, always be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter posts without explaining what you’ve done. * Rule #14: Try to add value. Strive to provide worthwhile information and perspective. Remember that what you publish will probably reflect on the company brand. * Rule #15: Use proper spelling and grammar. If your posts don’t follow the simple rules of writing, you’ll look stupid and the firm will look foolish for hiring you. * Rule #16: Avoid the cutesy stuff. Avoid goofy acronyms (e.g., ROFLMAO!) that are more appropriate for teenagers than professionals. * Rule #17: Don’t post SPAM. If you’ve posted your comment on one Website, don’t lift it and post the exact same thing elsewhere. * Rule #18: Only post on appropriate sites. Every venue where you post reflects on your common sense; be sure to use that common sense.