Top 10 Business Etiquette Tips
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
October 18, 2011
Filed Under Careers
Contributed by Tim Brugger, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Having spent many much of my youth in the world of suits, ties and PowerPoint presentations I can tell you from first hand experience there are certain do’s and don’ts in this environment.
Whether you’re in an office meeting or a working lunch, it’s important to exhibit a measure of etiquette.
Business etiquette includes how you conduct yourself both internally (around the workplace) and externally (visiting clients or prospective clients). That’s a lot to cover, so without further delay here are your top ten business etiquette tips.
10. Be flexible
What we in the U.S. consider proper business etiquette may or may not apply for those from other countries and/or cultures. We, for example, may find physical contact (touching of the shoulder or arm) inappropriate when just meeting a prospective business partner or client, but this is completely acceptable in many cultures. Do some research if a meeting with international representatives is imminent. Adapting to their definition of etiquette will keep the meeting moving along smoothly
9. Email usage
One of the greatest business tools ever, and one of it’s biggest problems. I think the difficulty is in the simplicity of email; it’s so quick and takes so little effort that people neglect to consider what constitutes abuse. There’s a simple rule of thumb; keep it business related. There, that was easy.
8. Valuable meetings
Who hasn’t groaned, inwardly or outwardly, on their way to “another meeting?” This business etiquette tip will often fall squarely on the shoulders of the management team, but anyone that calls a meeting needs to make sure of a few things. First, have a meeting outline and know what the objectives are, and how you intend on meeting them. Keep the meeting to the pre-determined time limit (see Top 10 item #’s 6 and 5) and for the love of all things holy, don’t have a meeting just to have a meeting. Too many weekly meetings occur simply because they’re weekly meetings. Ugh.
7. Respect others
Sure, it may be easy to blow off the mailroom guy on your way to an important meeting with a client, or maybe even the Big Boss Lady. But guess what, the mailroom guy has a role to play, an important role, and alienating anyone in an office environment will come back to haunt you. It’s not a matter of it, but when. Oops, that important letter you’ve been waiting on has somehow gotten lost; now how could that have happened?
6. Response time
Any list of business etiquette tips has to include the necessity of a timely response to both internal and external inquiries. Email, phone or fax, take a moment to confirm receipt if nothing else. Obviously, if a request has been made of some sort, not responding promptly causes much of the same consternation as the Top 10 item #5 below.
5. Timing is everything
Whether it’s meeting with a client or getting to a meeting on time, do it. Showing up even a few minutes late is disrespectful to the folks that didn’t, not to mention it gives the impression you’re either disorganized or have more important things to do. Either way, not a good impression.
4. Business cards – Part 1
Sure, you want to have nice cards that reflect your company and your position in a professional light. But this business etiquette tip isn’t about the design, it’s about ensuring they’re available at all times. If you’re at all active; working out, networking or simply getting out on the town on occasion, have some business cards with you. Not because you’re constantly on the prowl, but you just never know when the need will arise. When you’re in the most unlikely of places and are able to say “hold on, let me grab you a card” you’ve immediately imparted a level of professionalism that will be recognized.
3. The handshake
Easy, there big fella. Generally a problem for men, but certainly a worthwhile business etiquette tip for women as well, is the handshake. Trying to bring an associate or client to their knees with your Olympian grip is bad form, to say the least. Maybe even worse than a limp-wristed, sweat-laden handshake; though, that’s open to interpretation. A firm handshake, without the white knuckles, should be the objective.
Everyone knows, thought not everyone complies with, the notion that business attire is prerequisite. Where the waters can get a bid muddied is recognizing that each office environment can be different. So when we talk about business etiquette tips relating to attire here’s the trick; dress one small step up from what you would consider the “norm” I your office. Of course below the norm isn’t acceptable, at the norm is fine, but a notch above is a subtle indicator of a higher level of professionalism. It’s the kind of thing that gets noticed by the powers that be.
1. Business cards – The Sequel
If you and your team are off to a big meeting, or perhaps getting ready to host one, when do the business cards come out? You’ll hear different thoughts, but if they’re different than this one well, they’re incorrect. All meetings should begin with an etiquette-friendly handshake (see item #2), and then a “let me give you my card.” There are a couple of reasons for this: one, it avoids the possible angst of handing out your card after having a particularly bad meeting. Secondly, and this is especially important for meetings with several participants, it allows you to cheat if you accidentally forget someone’s name. Not that you would of course, but your associate? You never know.