Business etiquette may seem out-dated to the new generation of small business owners and their employees as well as large corporations who don’t see a need for it in this digital age. Those who overlook the value of business etiquette are losing business everyday.
Perhaps it occurs when the customer walks in and no one bothers to offer a greeting.or an acknowledgement of any sort. It may be that the customer’s name is never used. Perhaps the employees look as if they are dressed for a day at the beach rather than at the office. Any number of details can either cost you business or win customers over. In any case there is a direct connection between business etiquette and the bottom line.
Business Etiquette – The Key to Success
We all know that people do business with people they like.Here are some aspects of business etiquette that can improve your credibility and like-ability.
Make a good first impression. You only get one chance. Smile, make eye contact and ask how you can help. Every customer has the right to expect recognition and courtesy within the first few seconds.
Professional appearance counts. Clients and colleagues will judge your level of professionalism before you even open your mouth so dress appropriately at all times. In the business world it is always better to be dressed more conservatively than not. If your organization does not have a dress code, create one. Don’t leave how your people should dress to their imagination.
Work at remembering names. When you are introduced to people, focus on their name, not on what you are going to say next. If you repeat the name in the form of a question as soon as you meet the person, you will stand a better chance of remembering it the next time. For example when you are introduced to John Doe, reply by asking. “John Doe?” That way you can clarify that you heard the name correctly as well as reinforce it in your memory bank of names.
Be on time. Even being a few minutes late for a meeting is not acceptable. It indicates a lack of respect or importance of the people with whom you are meeting. If you cannot avoid being late, call to let someone know. Don’t send an email message since you can’t be sure the person you are trying to reach checks email every two minutes.
Pay attention to your social media manners. Don’t mix your personal and professional accounts. Use your own photo and professional name. By now most people should realize that someone who is considering hiring you or doing business with you will look you up on line. They won’t be impressed with you if you use a cute or racy name and if you post photos of yourself dancing on the table at the New Year’s Eve party.
Anything on the Internet is in the public domain so tread carefully online and in email. Never say anything that you don’t want the whole world to see. Never write when you are tired, emotional or angry. Consider that email has no tone of voice so for sensitive or complicated matters pick up the phone or walk down the hall. Personal interaction is much more effective in building and maintaining business relationships.
Do not pull out your smart phone or other communication device during a meeting. Keep it off and out of sight. The message you are sending to others in the meeting or presentation is one of disrespect and lack of interest. “Reading under the table,” is more obvious than you think.
There are certain words or topics to avoid in your business communications. Cursing has become almost common place, but it is a sure way to lose business and possibly your job. If you curse, you dilute your message by showing a lack of courtesy and professionalism as well as a limited vocabulary.
Publicizing your political beliefs has no place in business unless you are trying to lose customers. If you have any doubt about that, think of the recent episode with Chick-fil-A. Ultimately taking a public stance on an issue back-fired.
No matter what business you are in, business etiquette is vital to your success. It starts from the top down so the owner or CEO needs to demonstrate courtesy and respect. There is a definite trickle down effect. Given a choice, customers and employees will go where they are treated well. Ultimately business etiquette will show up in the bottom line. Polish builds profits.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.