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From work and family obligations to the omnipresence of technology, we live in a time where everyone is extremely busy and wrapped up their own lives. As a result, the basic rules of etiquette sometimes fly right out of the window. But as businesses struggle for differentiation, etiquette is really more important than ever. 

Professional social situations can be awkward. The rules are slightly different from standard social settings, yet business schools rarely discuss professional etiquette topics. From how to introduce yourself to what to order at restaurants, these are the social rules you need to know when establishing relationships. For organizations and employees alike, recognizing the critical link between business protocol and profit is the key to your success.

In a business situation, you should use your full name, but you should also pay attention to how others want to be introduced. 

Stand when meeting someone or shaking hands. Stand up, show a modicum of respect, and pretend like the person you are meeting is of some interest to you at the moment. Anything less is disrespectful. Think to yourself, “is this how I want to start this relationship?”.

I’m a big believer in the concept of paying it forward. I’m always introducing people who may be great business contacts, regardless of whether either one will ever do work with me. It ALWAYS comes back to you. 

Impress your clients by communicating appreciation. Stating “thank you” will elevate you above competitors. Whether large or small, the gesture will have an impact. Use thank you cards. Send a small gift to a new client. Decide the best way you can say thank you to others.

Whether it is email or a hard letter or document, it is imperative that you not use shorthand or texting acronyms in business correspondence, and for heaven’s sake, spell your words correctly. The pinnacle of rudeness is not caring enough to take the time to make your communications clear and correct.

Use other companies’ names. Do not use language like “my web guy” or “my blah blah company”. It’s polite and useful to make personal references. Thank people who’ve helped you by using their name. Make sure you know how to spell and pronounce the names of the individuals and companies with whom you do business. We all like to be called by name. When you remember the names of those you do business with, you stand out. First of all you need to listen, try to repeat names a few times throughout the conversation, and write down your contacts or get business cards (write on the back of them as needed).

Follow Up appropriately — it is good manners. If you promise info, deliver it; if you are asked for something, provide it; if you are given a deadline, meet it. Most importantly, if you want business from someone, remind them periodically of your existence; don’t expect them to remember you from one conversation or trade show meeting. In my marketing research, the most frequent tip I hear from government and corporate purchasers is that vendors should follow up better.

In today’s information age, managing emails, text messages, and phone calls takes considerable time. During business meetings, whether at your office, the office of a client, or even lunch, it is important to recognize that answering phone calls, checking emails, or sending text messages can be very disruptive to the meeting and conveys a message to the participants that they are less important than the party on the phone. Cell phones should be turned off and be out of sight during meetings.

Etiquette is about rules, and rules are often hard to remember. Business etiquette is no different. The most vital tip is in all you do, remember The Golden Rule. “Treat OTHERS the way you want to be treated.” This means that it’s not about YOU, it’s about THEM. This must drive your communication, your efforts and interactions. This unique approach stands out in a business world that is largely rude, crude and indifferent.

One of the worst etiquette no-no’s are people who interrupt others either in a business conversation or during a presentation. You’ll be able to recognize them right away. They’ll be the ones talking louder than the other person and it’s all about them. 

There is too much unwanted junk out there to just send a generic message that offers no insight into why you want to connect. To really harness the power of communication, you need to create real relationships and actually network. Whenever I send out a letter, I explain why I want to connect so that person knows I am not sending them junk.

In this day of email correspondence, it’s easy to become too informal. Use of acronyms is rude and unprofessional; therefore learn to write a strong, appropriate business letter the old fashioned way, and use it in your email. Be sure to address the person by the correct title, and by all means, spell their name right! Proofread it at least three times before you send it and have another pair of eyes review it, too. You’ll be rewarded with a great, professional first impression!

Be on time, or be 5 minutes early if possible. No one likes to wait or listen to stupid excuses… Appreciate others’ time & schedule by being on time & finishing on time.

Creating a great business is about building and maintaining positive relationships. Everyone appreciates being acknowledged for their gift of money and time. So, send handwritten “Thank you” notes. No time? If you want to be successful, you need to find the time. Always carry “thank you” note cards already stamped. Write when you have a few moments, take the time to stand out out and send a handwritten Thank you note.

With all of the above in mind the following are a sampling of items from American Stationery that will enhance any business environment:

Professional Mini Memos (8047) Mini memos are small enough to go anywhere. Use them in the office, in the kitchen, by the phone or any place you need to jot down notes. The acrylic holder keeps all 250 sheets neatly organized. Memo Size: 4 1/8” x 4 1/8”

Large Name Business Mailers – Top Personalization (6255_2) Perfect for the busy entrepreneur and the basic home office. Large easy-to-read return address on these business envelopes will make you a favorite at the post office and assure that your package stands out in a stack of mail.

Laid Mark Vellum Stationery – Social Size (3580) A cherished choice for the discriminating letter writer. The subtle laid mark pattern dates back to an age when handmade sheets were laid on latticed racks to dry in the sun. Today, executive-sized Monarch sheets serve both personal and business needs, and for the less formal letter, the Social sheets are ideal.

Citron Calling Cards (8137) These beautiful Citron Green calling cards feature your last name initial in an elegant script font. Perfect for busy moms and young professionals. Size: 2″ x 3 1/2″  Available in sets of 100 or 200 cards

Diamond Calling Cards (6725) A faceted diamond design against a stripe or your color choice, adds a touch of class to these White calling cards. They’re perfect for moms, business professionals, or retirees on the go.

Executive Desktop Memo Set (7026) Perfect for the busy executive; memos for all kinds of quick notes. Sizes: Small Memos: 3″ x 4″ Medium Memos: 4″ x 6″ Large Memos: 4 1/2″ x 7″

IPhoto 4 & 4s Cell Phone Cover (9597) These high quality cell covers feature a full wrap photo (no plain edges to show). The case is available for iPhone 3, iPhone 4 and 4s, Samsung Galaxy II and BlackBerry Bold. Please specify phone when ordering.

Noble Hand Bordered Gift Set (2794) A striking assorted set of our Hand Bordered Cards in gift boxed sets.  Includes a mixture of 50 cards, hand bordered in Navy, Gray, Brown, Gold and Black. Size: 6 1/4″ x 4 1/2″ Paper Color: White or Ivory

Acrylic Clipboard And Memo Set (HCL) Your name is etched on the over-sized acrylic clipboard. Softly ruled memo pad displays your name in choice of ink color. Set includes memo pad (100 sheets) and clipboard

Embossed Thank You Cards (5113) Express a personal or professional thank you with these customized flat correspondence cards featuring three lines of rich embossing. Sizes: 6 1/4″ x 4 1/2″ Paper Color: White or Ivory

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