The P's and Q's of Proper Business Etiquette
Building a career and succeeding in business isn't easy. It takes a lot of hard work, and you face plenty of cutthroat competition. But, as competitive as business can be, life at work also has a civilized aspect. If you're going to make it big, you had better take care to practice proper business etiquette.
How you dress matters to your career. But dressing well isn’t just about looking great or "making the right impression." It's also a sign of respect.
That’s why you should take the time to dress well and follow any relevant dress codes. This can be a bit tougher when it comes to business attire for women, depending on the dress code, but a reliable retailer and a sense of basic business-dress rules will go a long way toward ensuring that you’re always putting your best foot forward on the sartorial front.
What's in a name?
Advancing your career will mean a lot of hard work. It will also require you to make meaningful connections with your fellow professionals - and that starts with remembering names. While you're busy trying to make a good first impression, don't forget to commit a new contact's name to memory. Getting a name wrong in a business situation is bad, especially when you're trying to cut a deal with a client or another company.
The art of the thank-you note
When you were younger, you might have been told to write a thank-you note to Grandma for her Christmas presents. For the most part, though, the handwritten thank-you note is quite uncommon these days. But not in the business world. Here, you're still expected to send personal thank-you notes in certain situations. It's a good idea to write thank-you notes to hiring managers when you're interviewed for a job, and to recruiters when they've helped you land an interview. It's polite to send thank-you notes to professional contacts who help you out in other ways, too. For big favors, send a gift basket along with the note.
Picking up the tab
Business lunches (and dinners) can be very productive things. But then the check comes, and you wonder: Who is supposed to pay for all of this?
The rule of thumb is simple. Here it is: Whichever party invited the others to the meal is the party who pays. So don't propose a business lunch unless you're prepared to pick up the tab for the others you invite. Splitting the checks at a business meal is usually a breach of etiquette.
Neat and tidy
Some people are neat freaks, and others are slobs. How you choose to keep your personal space at home is your prerogative, but remember that your workspace is part of a larger system. You owe it to co-workers, clients, and customers (and to yourself, too) to keep your space clean and organized.
And don't forget about shared office spaces, either. Help keep the microwave and coffee machine clean, and be respectful by not making a mess (and by not microwaving anything too smelly, please).
This rundown of business etiquette is hardly an exhaustive list of rules and best practices for polite professionalism. You’ll, unfortunately, find plenty of other ways to offend your co-workers and professional contacts. But don't worry: In most cases, you can use your common sense and familiarity with everyday etiquette to help you get by. If it's impolite outside of the professional sphere, then it's probably impolite within it, too.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t have to work too hard to have good business etiquette. A few rules, some common sense, and a desire to be polite and helpful to others will give you more than enough to shine in the etiquette department.
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