Ask the Expert

Business Etiquette: Setting the Stage for Instant Rapport

"In this age of technology, the concept of “business etiquette” may seem dated, boring, and intrusive to our sense of individuality. . .

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But business etiquette is still essential for anyone aiming to create a favourable impression and positive outcomes when dealing with others.

Unfortunately, social media and similar new age communication streams have blurred the lines between appropriate professional and personal interaction. While social media plays an important role in establishing a business’s personality and culture, in certain situations we can all feel uncertain how to best navigate uncharted social territory.

"There is really no substitute for good, old-fashioned business etiquette.. . .

Not only does it help establish credibility, it creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and comfort. Essentially, business etiquette is about making people feel good. Although it can be seen as a set of stiff social rules, it is really about ensuring some basic social comforts exist in professional and business situations.

Here are a number of tips to keep in mind as you navigate your professional relationships:

  • Send a Thank-you Note
    The small act of writing a short and sweet thank-you note will help differentiate you from the masses. If you are visiting clients or meeting new business partners—especially if you want the contract or deal—take the time to write a note. Emails are good, but if you can send something in hard copy, you will stand out even more.
  • Focus on the Face, Not the Device
    Distractions, distractions, and more distractions. These days it is difficult to focus with the ever-constant presence of digital devices, emails, phone calls, and social media. While multitasking has its place, we don’t need to be doing it constantly to feel productive. When you are in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone and refrain from checking your email. Pay attention and be present!
  • Learn Names
    Make an effort to remember the names of important business contacts (partners, suppliers, potential clients, etc.). You never know when you will bump into someone on the street or at a networking event.
  • Facilitate Introductions
    When in doubt, introduce others. Always introduce people to others whenever the opportunity arises, unless you know they are already acquainted. People will feel valued, regardless of their status or position.
  • Spelling and Grammar
    Always check your emails for spelling and grammatical errors. Since the advent of spell check, there is no excuse for typos. Also, complete a quick read of your email before you hit “Send.” Ensure the meaning and tone of your email are what you wish to convey.
  • Dress for Success
    Even in a casual environment, one should err on the side of caution. A slovenly appearance can imply to clients, colleagues, and customers that they are not worth the effort to present yourself respectably. If the dress code is uncertain, it is always safer to be overdressed rather than underdressed.
  • A Solid Handshake
    A good, well-timed handshake paired with a smile and good eye contact is a sure-fire way to stand out, whether you are at an industry conference or making a sales pitch.

Business etiquette is just as important today as it was ten years ago. However, the digital landscape has made it more difficult to know whether or not you are crossing a line.

If you follow a handful of simple tips, such as those above, you will be well prepared to create the favourable impressions necessary to distinguish yourself from others and forge new professional and business opportunities in future.

Keep in touch!
Chantal Orr; B.Com.

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