Monday, February 20, 2012

8 Business Etiquette Principles for Making All-Important Initial Encounters with Clients, Customers, and Vendors.

Whether you’ve just landed an entry-level office job, operate on the front lines with people who use your company’s product or service, run your own business, or hold any other position that involves maintaining business relationships with others. Whether you work for a multinational corporation, a local print shop, or a one-person business, you have probably faced the same basic question my clients have: How do I make sure I don’t say or do the wrong thing in a business setting?

Conducting business with charm and savvy means making an effort to learn more about others than you share about yourself. It means learning to interact with others more effectively by consistently putting a positive focus on the person on the other side. It means being present for the individual with whom you’re interacting and making sure he or she feels great about the exchange.

These tips will assist you in :
  • Conducting your business with more confidence, know-how, grace, and efficiency than ever before.
  • Put others at ease by showing more confidence and poise in business settings.
  • Handle moments of hesitation with a style that leaves your contacts feeling glad you were there.
  • Negotiate more “win-win” outcomes.

Courtesy begins with introductions. If an introduction is mismanaged, there is a strong possibility that the emerging business relationship will also be subject to problems. That is why you must start right away to build a strong foundation for your new business relationships.
A few simple principles can have a dramatic, positive effect on the way you meet and greet new business associates.

We has 8 simple principles that will help you make sure those all-important initial encounters with clients, customers, vendors, and others go as smoothly as they possibly can.

  1.  Make a powerful, positive first impression: Establish appropriate eye contact, avoid colloquialisms and slang, and have the right “support materials” at hand.
  2.  Know who should be introduced first.
  3.  Avoid offering a limp handshake; make sure your grip is confident and appropriate to the situation.
  4.  Manage unconventional handshake situations by following the other person’s lead.
  5.  Remember: You can use social missteps as an opportunity to display grace, wit, and poise.
  6.  Never ask “Who are you?” Find creative ways to determine the names of people to whom you’ve been introduced.
  7.  Don’t use the person’s first name unless you’re invited to do so.
  8.  Present a single business card; follow the lead of a higher-ranking person, rather than asking for his or her business card.

Tip #1
Make a super first impression.

Just as you often judge other people by the initial impact they have on you, so are you likely to be judged yourself in the first few moments of interacting with someone.
Here are some tips for making a great first impression with colleagues and business associates:
1) hen meeting another person, extend a confident handshake as you make eye contact.
2) Eliminate trendy words from your vocabulary. Modern colloquialisms may be fine on the home front, however, slang is considered inappropriate in a business environment. Thus, you should avoid a phrase such as “Awesome!” when you mean to say “Great!”
3) When you are representing your organization, always carry materials (such as a computer bag, pens, and notepads) that broadcast a “quality” message. Believe it or not, supporting materials are a definite reflection of your style—and your organization’s style. These materials will project an image—positive or negative—of you and your organization.

How to make it easy for others to start at a conversation with you

People who have what I call “minglephobia”—a discomfort with initiating small talk at social gatherings—are often “cured” when someone else starts up the discussion.
Here’s a simple way to encourage others to launch the conversation at your next cocktail party, office gathering, or business event.
Have you ever entered a room filled with strangers and thought to yourself, “I can’t approach any of these people!”? Guess what? You don’t have to. Rather than wasting time or energy feeling uncomfortable, take control.
When you find yourself standing alone, look for the nearest window. No—don’t jump! Simply get yourself a beverage, then stroll over to the window. Rather than looking out the window, stand with your back against it. (Having a glass of something to hold will put you at ease and make you look approachable.)
When others are ready to begin a new conversation, they are more likely to approach individuals like you— people who are standing in front of a source of natural light.
It’s true: just as plants bend toward natural light, so do people!

Tip #2
Know whom to introduce first.

In most situations, the basics of introductions are easy to master: Mention the name of the higher-status person first. But what if there is no higher-status person? When introducing two clients to each other, both of whom are on the same professional level, whose name should be said first?
I recommended that you say the name of the person you know least well first. By doing this, you will bring that person into the conversation and allow him or her to feel more at ease.

Tip #3
Know the value of a good handshake.

If you have ever had a strong positive or negative reaction to someone based on the firmness or weakness of the person’s handshake, then you already know how important this one small gesture can be. A limp handshake can tag you as someone who is hesitant or lacking in resolution. An overpowering shake can brand you as a manipulator. A sincere, confident grip conveys confidence and authority.
Beware! People from different parts of the country expect a variety of distances between two individuals who are greeting each other. When interacting with contacts from out-of-town, try to let the other person’s “space instincts” guide your approach to the handshake.

Here are a few tips for knowing how to offer a good handshake that also maintains a proper distance:
1) Clasp the other person’s palm with your palm, rather than fingers to fingers. Your grip should be firm. Hold someone’s hand too loosely and it’s possible you will earn the dreaded description of being “a dead fish.”
2) Do not, however, be so firm that you squeeze the other person’s hand too hard. Rather than causing pain of any sort, simply apply a little pressure and then let go. Keep in mind that a handshake is not a contest to see who can grip the hardest. You should match each other, grip for grip.
3) Talk to the person whose hand you are shaking; a simple “Nice to meet you” or “Good to see you again” will do.
4) If you know the person well and wish to convey additional warmth, then place your free hand on top of the clasped hands or on the other person’s arm or shoulder. However, do not do this if you are meeting somebody for the first time, as such a gesture can be misconstrued as an invasion of territory. If you want to convey a sense of rapport without making the other person uncomfortable, try touching his or her arm between the hand and elbow rather than between the elbow and shoulder.
5) As you release the other person’s hand, pause briefly but purposefully before continuing the conversation.

If you are going to another country, try to learn what the customs are there for shaking hands. In some nations it is considered polite to shake upon meeting and leaving; not doing so may give offense. For some, handshakes should be firm, for others they should be aggressive, and for still others, where there is a “caste” system, you should shake hands only with persons of a certain standing. Some countries frown on shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex. Finally, there are some social systems where the greeting is not a handshake but a bow of some sort. The more you learn about the specific customs governing these forms of greeting people, the easier it will be for you to get along, no matter what country you are in.


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