Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: Mind The Gap
“Freedom without rules doesn’t work. And communities do not work unless they are regulated by etiquette.”
- Judith Martin
Etiquette [et-i-kit, -ket]
Conventional requirements as to social behaviour; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
Simply put etiquette refers to how an individual presents themselves to and interacts with others, and this is an essential skill for women doing business across borders.
So how does one ensure that they put their best foot forward? I sought the opinion of a number of Etiquette Expertsand compiled my Top 5 Business Etiquette Tips.
- Make A Positive First Impression
It has been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The clothes you wear convey a message.
According to William Thourlby, author of You Are What You Wear, you really are what you wear!
“When you step into a room, decisions will be made solely upon your appearance; so to be successful, and to be sure decisions are favourable, keep in mind that you are what you wear, and dress accordingly.” Thourlby goes on to say that, “Of course, clothes will not compensate for weak credentials, poor work records or bad habits, but a person who is dressed appropriately and is well groomed can open doors, where one who is inappropriately dressed and poorly groomed, will never be admitted.”
- Be Professional On The Telephone
Be professional & courteous when speaking on the phone. Always use business language at all times. Speak clearly and smile. Whilst the caller on the other end of the line can’t see you they will pick up on your smile.
If the caller is upset, don’t take it personally. Bite your tongue & allow them to vent so that they can release some steam. Deal with their complaint in a calm, soothing manner – show them that you are interested in helping & handling their complaint calmly and rationally.
- Netiquette 101
Kyra Sheahan, Senior Editor at Edgenuity, Inc. shares the importance of netiquette – etiquette that takes place over virtual mediums, such as email and social media.
Virtual communication is popular in the business world, so it is critical that you maintain professionalism. Compose emails the way you would write a letter. Check your email for correct punctuation usage, grammar and other technical errors. Avoid using jargon, abbreviations and emoticons. Whilst the rules vary on the various social media platforms, remember never to post anything that you wouldn’t want shared with all your wider networks – including your boss. It has been said that many organisations actually check social media to get an ‘inside scoop’ on individuals they are looking to hire or do business with.
- Mind Your Manners
We teach our children the importance of saying please & thank you and yet we often forget to practice what we preach & mind our manners as we navigate the corridors of our places of work.
Peter Post, MD of The Emily Post Institute and Author of 5 Etiquette books emphasizes the importance of good manners.
“The best part of using “please” and “thank you” as you interact with others is those words don’t cost you anything. Yet, they show respect for the people you are with and that in turn helps you to build relationships.
You can never say thank you enough. Appreciate & thank your colleagues, employees, or subordinates when they do a good job or go out of their way to help you. Thank your customers for buying, for their loyalty & for the feedback. People love being appreciated & they will appreciate your good manners.
- Meetings: The Rules of Engagement
A lack of meeting etiquette & poor planning are the 2 most common reasons why business meetings fail.
Author George Root III suggests that you arrive 15minutes early for all meetings. This ensures that you will be settled by the time the meeting starts. Confirm the agenda & make the necessary preparations prior to the meeting.
Do not dominate the meeting. Allow others to share their opinions. Be respectful of all opinions, even those you do not agree with
In the words of Clarence Thomas;
“Good manners will open doors that even the best education will not” (adapted)
Often the difference between closing that deal and failing to catch a break is the ability to master the nuances of business etiquette. In the bid to build an empire that spans across continents, the how is just as important as the what.