“Read the room” is a common phrase when talking about analyzing an audience while you’re the speaker. In case you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, you take into account nonverbal and verbal cues from the people you’re around and adjust your words accordingly. A good example of this would be that if you’re at a posh dinner party, avoiding sharing intimate details about your life (unless, of course, that’s the topic- and that’s where you’d “read the room” to adjust your words).

The digital world, despite its easier access to people around the world, is still the same. I think people forget about etiquette and niceties when they approach a stranger online. In person, you’d never walk up to someone you’ve never met and ask, “Hey, so, can I pick your brain about this article you once wrote?” Something – anything – would be before that ask. An introduction of yourself, what you’re hoping to gain from the conversation, even compensation. 

Having a screen in front of you doesn’t excuse you from behaving like an ungrateful asker. This topic has been in the back of my head for a while now because I try very hard to communicate where I’m at for work. Doing basic research, whether via pinned tweets, IG highlights, or scrolling just the last few posts, would tell you exactly where I’m at. 

“What does a coffee marketer do?” is a question I’ve been asked by someone I’ve never talked to and it’s directly answered on my homepage. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth when someone devalues my time so much that they would not take two seconds to click through to my website to understand me a little more before just asking. At the time of this question, I had no energy to do a full explanation and it was very clear in my profile that I wasn’t able to handle extra tasks.

Read the [digital] room. Apply this when you’re researching potential influencers, press contacts, and sending out promotional content during hot political moments. Perhaps someone is going through a tough time or recently moved (hi, both are me). Or someone switched jobs or is taking a break from employment. Doing basic research is respectful to any potential connection and it shows you value them.