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Rules of Business Etiquette

Ditch the gum. Mind your spelling. If you want to make a good impression, it's time to get professional.

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This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Teen Startups.

In my previous columns, I have stressed that any teen can succeed in the business world, as long as you don't behave like a typical teenager. Yes, this is a world foreign to many teenagers, where the word "dude" generally doesn't fly, and dead-fish handshakes are a sign of immaturity. This column will look at etiquette skills that can lead to professional success (or at least acknowledgement as a competent peer) in the business world.

Communications

While many people preaching proper business etiquette start by explaining introductions in a meeting, how to tip at a restaurant and such, I am an adamant believer that good business etiquette starts before any face-to-face interactions. The single most important thing you can do to come across as a professional and polite businessperson is to master outstanding etiquette skills during pre-meeting communications. In e-mails, it is crucial that you address the recipient every time with a "Dear Mr. Doe:" and sign it with a salutation such as "Very truly yours." Proofreading your e-mails and not "shouting" with excessive use of capital letters is important. In voice-mail messages, always speak slowly and repeat your name and number at the beginning and end of the message.

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