I have been writing about business etiquette for years. I guess it has been important to me because I put so much value in first impressions. First impressions aside, it is imperative in today’s competitive global arena to have sound business etiquette skills and none are more important these days than the etiquette that you use on the telephone, in emails, in conference calls and webinars, and even in social media. Indeed, etiquette is an essential requirement in order for you to distinguish yourself, develop and maintain business relationships, strengthen your business presence, project a positive, confident, professional image, and thrive in every situation with confidence.
In everything you do, your manners have a direct impact on your professional and social success. According to Tamiko Zablith, Founder and Director of Minding Manners™, a London based consultancy, “in today’s increasingly global society, etiquette is the essential ‘soft-skill’ that often determines who becomes a leader, and who gets left behind.”
In your email, telephone and social media exchanges you have the opportunity to set yourself apart by knowing the correct way to:
- Leave a telephone message
- Conduct yourself on a telephone call
- Originate and respond to emails
- Participate in a virtual group discussion
- Communicate in social media
Since this is a blog post and not a 3 volume anthology, let’s just cover a few of the absolute essentials.
- Telephone Messages: Speak slowly and clearly; never leave a message without leaving a number; keep your message very brief; please remember to use please and thank you; suggest several good times for a call back; oh, I almost forgot, tell the listener who is calling. If you receive a telephone message from someone who might be trying to sell you something that you do not need, have the courage and courtesy to call them back and in 30 seconds or less tell them that in order to save them time, you do not require their services or products and that they would be better served spending time on another prospect.
- General Telephone Conduct: Answer with your name and company name so the caller knows they have dialed the correct number. For example, “Good morning, this is Jimmy Lewin of Cayenne Consulting.” Speak slowly and clearly. Return all calls within a business day. It is not necessary to provide an excuse for a tardy return of a call. Just return the call. Treat all callers with consideration, dignity and respect.
- Business Emails: This may come as a surprise to 60% of people who use emails in business…business emails are for business! The transmission of jokes, spam and personal notes and comments and, oh yes, smiley faces are for another type of email…personal email. Emails should always be professional, brief as possible, polite and direct. Never assume a specific audience because once you click on “Send,” well, I think you know what I’m about to say. Every email that you originate or respond to should be proof read. Emails are not SMS messages. Silly typos make a lasting impression. PROOF READ!
- Conference Calls: If you are the originator of the call, be certain that every participant is introduced or introduces themselves, their company and, if possible why they are participating. Have an agenda that everyone knows in advance. Get down to business immediately. The two most talked about topics on a conference call are the weather and sports. Forget about it! If you are a professional, then please conduct yourself accordingly. Aggressive, rude behavior is the hallmark of the non-professional. Be certain that everyone has the opportunity to contribute. That is why you invited them to participate in the first place. If someone seems to be dominating the conversation, it is ok to remind them that that there are other participants to be heard from.
- Social Media: There is no such thing as privacy. Be a professional and re-read all of the essentials above.
So, you’ve just read the preceding 600 or so words and you are, right about now saying to yourself, I know this. Great, now would be an excellent time to start doing it.