A faux pas in a business setting that you didn't know to avoid is a quick way to realize how much they didn't teach you at college.
My last article talked about professional image through fashion basics. Proper dress makes an indispensable, positive first impression that will nonetheless evaporate if your etiquette is not equally good. Your parents probably taught you the good manner basics you need, so consider this a refresher course as you build your new, professional brand.
1. 10 minutes early is on time. A guaranteed way to aggravate your peers and supervisors is showing up late to a meeting with your iced cappuccino in hand. Now everyone knows your caffeine addiction took priority over your company’s time. Be ready when the meeting starts versus shuffling through your briefcase while the speaker is trying to kick off the meeting.
2. Taking notes. You may think you have a photographic memory but the strongest memory is weaker than the palest ink. Store the take-away from meetings in the cloud so you can reflect on it in the future. Have a file on your computer that can “tell your career story” by summarizing the important meetings you had.
A powerful relationship building tactic is to send your notes to the other party to make sure you didn’t misinterpret anything they said. This is an excellent best practice for effective communication.
Taking notes on tablets is convenient in a seminar or group meeting but problematic one-on-one. You can't simultaneously make eye contact and hit the right keys on the touch keyboard. When you use a device to take notes, tell the other people in the room what you are doing.
3. 24-Hour Rule. Even if you don’t have the answer, reply within 24 hours of receiving a voice message, text or email. People appreciate that you acknowledged their correspondence. This will become a feather in your career cap. Your response time is a personal brand builder or destroyer.
4. No E- Conflict. Yes, the easy way out in dealing with a conflict is through email or text but you need to have these conversations face-to-face, or at least by phone.
First, emails and text messages lack tonality, which can escalate the conflict. Be a professional and face your conflicts in a “real time” conversation via phone or face-to-face. That uneasiness you feel when you walk away from the computer and head down the hall to talk to the disagreeing colleague is called "growth.''
5. Introductions. When you are introduced to someone, give a firm handshake, make eye contact and tell them your first and last name. Introducing yourself using just your first name is only for casual settings. Your last name is important for the business and career reputation you are building.
When you are introducing two people, say the more senior or successful person's name first. For example, "Ms. Big, meet Newest Employee."
6. Manners build confidence. Just like at your grandmother's house, be polite and remember your manners. Be appreciative of other people’s time and input but don’t overdo it with gushing gratitude. Putting the other person on a pedestal pushes you to a lower confidence rung. This is especially true when conducting business with another professional or company.
Now that you look professional and have a solid foundation on the etiquette side, your can focus on developing relationships and developing yourself to have a successful, professional career launch.