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Why Startups Need Netiquette

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by Startacus Admin


Brad Revell from Toastmasters International shares insights, tips and ideas to help you improve how you communicate online

As a startup you need to communicate with a wide range of people, and build relationships that will help your business grow.  Now that so much communication is online it is particularly important to focus on netiquette – etiquette for the internet. 

photo-1616587226157-48e49175ee20 Here are some ideas to help your brain adapt from the requirements of face-to-face meetings to the world of working and developing your business online. Use them yourself to communicate well and run your business efficiently.  You can also use them to help set standards of good communication for your team.

The place to start

Everyone has an opinion on netiquette, so I recommend making the following 10 general rules your starting point. 

  1. Include an agenda when scheduling meetings; always. This allows participants to prepare in advance.

  2. Agree on actions at the end of each meeting. 

  3. Send through notes and actions to meeting participants in the following format: Who does what by when. All three components are key. 

  4. Respond promptly to online communications. For Instant Messaging (e.g. SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, Slack, Teams etc.) respond within the day. For Email, within 24 hours. If you need more time, send a quick note letting the sender know you will be delayed and your revised timeframe to properly respond.

  5. Ask permission before adding someone to a group or channel etc. 

  6. During meetings the host should orchestrate introductions. Keep introductions short and relevant.

  7. Cameras on and mute always at the ready. I have a global shortcut setup to turn my mute function on and off (i.e. MicDrop)

  8. Look directly at the camera when speaking during a meeting. This is a tough habit to establish however the rapport you will build is compelling. 

  9. Schedule meetings ideally for 30 minutes. If you need more time, then schedule for 45 or 55 minutes. This allows participants a short break between calls.

  10. Always use the in-line reply function versus a generic reply to provide context (a good Wikipedia article on the topic for email is here). Point your responses to a particular person if applicable using the @<RECEIPIENT> approach. Most applications support both of these capabilities natively. 


DiSC is one of the most useful communication tools I’ve used. It classifies communication styles into four areas to enhance the way you communicate to a person:  Dominant, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientious. 

photo-1596526131083-e8c633c948d2Whether you’re a dominant communicator (e.g. High D) or into the details (e.g. High C), DiSC help you tailor what you say, how you say it and what you deliver in a way to make it easier for the recipient to absorb and consume. There are lots of useful resources for DiSC online. 

TO vs. CC vs. BCC

Email is here to stay. We can help each other reduce our email inbox by making the most of the difference between TO, CC and BCC. For example:

‘TO’ should be for the primary recipients who need to read and action your email. And ‘CC’ for the secondary recipients who should be aware of the email though no action is required from them. 

I move people from TO/CC to BCC as a powerful signal to reduce email SPAM. This approach requires clear communication to everyone on that email. Therefore, before sending a “reply to all” response, I move all the redundant recipients from TO/CC to BCC and communicate that change accordingly. That way BCC recipients won’t continue to be spammed with “reply to all” emails that are not relevant to them anymore. 

You should always re-categorise email recipients with every reply you send. For example, if you need someone to action a point in your email then move them from CC to the TO field. This approach saves time for everybody. 

The last aspects to note with BCC is its use for privacy and GDPR related communications. If you’re sending a mail-out email, use BCC.

You can reduce your emails by 50%

photo-1554415707-6e8cfc93fe23This is a bold statement, so let me explain! I encourage you to anticipate the response of the recipients in the TO field. Said differently you can potentially reduce sending two emails to just one by asking an anticipatory question. Here’s an example:

Original Approach:

Email 1 (Sender): Hi, can you meet up for a meeting next week to discuss Project A?

Email 2 (Responder): Yes, I can meet next week to discuss Project A. When are you thinking of meeting?

Email 3 (Original Sender): Great, how about Monday at 2pm for 20 minutes?

Email 4 (Original Responder): Sure, let’s do that time. Please send a meeting request for us to connect.

Email 5 (Original Sender): No problem, it’s on its way.

That’s 5 emails to agree on a meeting to discuss Project A. Is there a better way? Using the words “If so” or “if not” are powerful ways of reducing email by at least 50%.

Here is the above example revised using this technique….

Revised Approach:

Email 1 (Sender): Hi, can you meet up for a meeting next week to discuss Project A? If so, can you meet on Monday at 2pm for 20 minutes? Let me know and I’ll schedule a meeting. Email 2 (Responder): Sure, I’m available on Monday and can do 2pm. Looking forward to receiving the meeting request.

The revised approach halved the emails required as the sender is writing the email anticipating the response. Not all emails are this simple, however, wherever possible use this anticipation technique versus going back and forth. 

The rules and ideas we have looked at here come from my years of experience as a communicator and leader. They provide a strong foundation for approaching communications via the Internet as you build your business and set good standards for your team.


Brad Revell.Brad Revell is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. 

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Published on: 7th October 2021

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