What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement and Why Do You Need It?

A non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is an agreement between two different parties about how to handle sensitive information. Typically, an NDA is signed before releasing confidential information to another party to ensure the other party will not disclose that information to someone else. In some cases, the NDA is for businesses working together and covers sensitive information given out about either party. There are many different instances where an NDA can be useful and crafting the NDA carefully can make a big difference in how enforceable it will be.

Why is an NDA Important?

An NDA is crucial where a business wants to keep employees, businesses they’re working with, and others from sharing confidential information. This information could include trade secrets, client information, strategies, product information, or any other proprietary information they might have. It is basically designed to keep secret information secret so no one can make a profit from it. They may also be used to show that the company owns anything developed on behalf of the company during a staff member’s employment or to keep employees from starting a competing business by using trade secrets or taking the company’s current clients.

When an NDA is created and signed by both parties, it becomes a legal agreement. It is not an oral or implied agreement and holds more weight if there is a breach of the non-disclosure agreement. If there is a breach, the person who breached the agreement can be sued. They may have to pay to cover lost profits. In addition, since the NDA is a legal agreement, someone who breaches it may be found in contempt of court and face criminal charges along with a civil suit to cover any damages from the breach.

Basically, a non-disclosure agreement enables employers to use the court system to recover damages if trade secrets or other proprietary information is revealed by someone who has signed the agreement. They have proof that the person was aware they could not reveal the information they knew about but went ahead and shared the information with someone else.

Why Should You Have an NDA?

Businesses often have many different reasons to create and use a non-disclosure agreement. If they want to protect trade secrets or client information that employees may be able to access, they can have the employees sign an NDA. If the business owner wants to sell the business, they might have an NDA for potential buyers to sign before discussing how the business works or the details for the products they sell. Businesses that hire freelancers or independent contractors may also want to create an NDA as this can help protect the business in the event a freelancer or independent contractor decides to share confidential information.

What Should an NDA Include?

Man in a suit, standing next to stairsAny non-disclosure agreement a business creates should be designed with their specific needs in mind. Business owners may want to hire a lawyer to create the NDA to ensure it will hold up in court in case a breach does occur. There are a few important pieces every NDA should have, however, to ensure it is as complete as possible before both parties sign the agreement.

  • Who is Involved – Every NDA should include who is signing the agreement. This may be more than just the name of both parties and should include which party is sharing the confidential information and which party is receiving the information.
  • What the Confidential Information Includes – Every NDA must include a description of the confidential information. It should note exactly what is confidential as well as what is not confidential and can be shared with others. The agreement should be as specific as possible so it’s clear what it covers and what it does not cover.
  • Expiration Date – If the NDA covers information that is not always going to be confidential, there should be an expiration date included in the NDA. For instance, if the information is about a new product that will be released in 6 months, the expiration date for the NDA might be the same as the release date for the new product. Some non-disclosure agreements will not include an expiration date as the confidential information can never be released.
  • What Signing the NDA Means – It’s usually a good idea to include information on what happens if there’s a breach of the agreement. This could include legal information about going to court to seek damages for the release of the information.
  • Potential Immunity – There may be times when the information needs to be released to another party, such as when it’s ordered through the courts. There should be a section in the NDA that covers what happens if the information must be released and when it can be released if required.
  • Other Information – The agreement might also include how disputes are resolved, where disputes are resolved, who pays the legal fees if there is a dispute, and more. Any information that might be needed by one party or the other for consideration before signing the NDA should be included in the agreement so they have all the information before signing it.

Store Sensitive Documents in a Data Room

Writing a business emailAn NDA can discourage people from sharing the information and provide remedies if the information is shared but does not actually stop someone from sharing the information. Along with creating an NDA, it may be a good idea to look into how documents that may need to be shared are handled. Data rooms are designed to protect sensitive documents so only those who have permission are able to view them. While this may not be able to completely stop someone from sharing the information, it does add another level of protection.

If you have trade secrets, important client information, or other information that should be kept confidential, having a non-disclosure agreement that must be signed before the information is shared can help you keep protect it. After creating the NDA, consider keeping your sensitive documents safe in a data room. Between the data room and the non-disclosure agreement, you can keep your sensitive information much safer.

Bitcoin

What is an Inititial Coin Offering (ICO)?

It’s undeniable that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been turning the financial world on its head in recent years. These decentralized digital currencies are unlike fiat currencies in that they do not rely on a central bank or another major financial institute for their production and credibility, instead making use of a technology known as blockchains to keep track of transactions via a public ledger. Given how unorthodox the entire world of cryptocurrency use and investment already is, it should come as no surprise that those startups tasked with creating new cryptocurrencies are also using some fairly unorthodox methods to raise venture capital. One method that has been swiftly growing in popularity despite regulatory concerns is known as an Initial Coin Offering, or an ICO.

What is an ICO?

An ICO is a largely unregulated method for raising venture capital to get new cryptocurrencies off the ground. It allows startups to bypass the highly regulated alternative of capital-raising through venture capitalists and banks. Instead, an ICO campaign sells a percentage of its future cryptocurrency, known as a token, to early backers in return for either fiat cash or another established cryptocurrency.

The ICO Process

When a firm decides it wants to raise funds via an ICO, its first step is to create a project plan known in the industry as a whitepaper. This document describes what, exactly, the project is about, including how much money will be required to complete it, how many of the new digital tokens will be kept by the project’s pioneers themselves and its initial backers, and how long the ICO campaign is intended to be run. A firm’s whitepaper also lays out what needs their project is intended to fulfill once it is completed and what type of money they will accept in exchange for percentages of its cryptocurrency.  If the firm manages to meet its minimum requirements for getting the project off the ground within the time frame specified in its whitepaper, it will then use its backers’ money to initiate or complete the creation of a new cryptocurrency.

Advantages Over Traditional IPOs

Some financial experts cite this process as being similar to that of a more traditional Initial Public Offering, or IPO, transaction; however, this new means of acquiring venture capital is still largely unregulated, making it potentially riskier than an IPO, which trades shares of the company rather than tokens.  That’s not the only difference between ICOs and IPOs, though. IPOs are designed specifically with venture capitalists and large-scale investors in mind, while ICOs are open to anyone and tend to draw in small-scale enthusiastic backers rather than major players within the investment world.

Unlike the venture capitalists investing in IPOs, those who choose to purchase ICO tokens are not offered partial ownership of either the project or its parent company. They do, however, still stand to reap substantial benefits in the event that the cryptocurrency is successfully adopted within the larger marketplace.

Risks of ICOs

While investing in ICOs can be quite lucrative for those who choose their cryptocurrency startups wisely, the process is certainly not without its risks. Many enthusiastic investors are unaware that the development of ICOs as an investment strategy is still in its infancy, so they will not have the same protections as venture capitalists do when they invest in more traditional IPO shares. In fact, even the blockchain technology itself that lies at the base of all new cryptocurrencies is still in development, which has the potential to leave investors vulnerable to both unanticipated code errors and intentional theft by hackers.

Digital theft isn’t the only thing investors should be worried about, though; ICOs themselves are, as they currently stand, an ideal platform for fraudsters looking to prey on enthusiastic but ultimately ignorant investors. Unfortunately, even legitimate ICO providers are often less than transparent in offering information to potential investors, making it even more difficult for them to distinguish legitimate startups from fraudulent projects. When combined with the fact that tokens are exchanged on specialized trading platforms that are not currently subject to financial supervision, it should be clear that ICO investors face substantial risks even in the event that they choose to invest in a legitimate startup.

International Regulations

The fact that ICOs, as they currently stand in their largely unregulated state, offer a perfect opportunity for those looking to defraud investors has played a large role in some countries’ decisions to ban this practice entirely. China and South Korea have both unequivocally banned the use of ICOs for raising capital and have required those companies that have already completed their funding cycles to refund any fiat currency or cryptocurrency altcoins invested.

Other major players in the international business world, such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, the United States, and the European Union, are tentatively allowing the use of ICOs despite their risks and are beginning to implement market regulations such as licensing, consumer protections, and designation of altcoins as a security rather than a currency.

The Future of ICOs

ClockWhile critics, including many financial experts and government officials alike, say that ICOs constitute a serious risk to investors and should not be trusted, there are still plenty of proponents of this investment strategy who believe that ICOs are the wave of the future, but only if companies and investors start focusing on blockchain technologies rather than the cryptocurrencies themselves. Given that ICOs are both more cost-efficient and more time-efficient than traditional IPOs, and that they make global investment strategies much more feasible for a larger number of companies, they still constitute a practical means of raising venture capital for startups using blockchain technologies.

The Take-Away

While ICOs currently constitute an extremely high-risk investment due to their current lack of regulation, their future as a feasible method for gaining venture capital still looks bright. Potential investors should be hesitant to jump on the bandwagon today but should keep an eye out for regulatory and market changes that may make ICO investment a far more reliable strategy for moving forward with blockchain technologies in the future.

How Bitcoin May Affect The Worlds Future

Bitcoin is one of the oldest and most widely-known cryptocurrencies. There are no coins to mint or bills to print. It is decentralized, which means there is no banking institution or government in control. Owners remain anonymous; rather than using names, Social Security numbers, or tax IDs, bitcoin uses encryption keys to connect sellers to buyers. Bitcoin is mined by extremely powerful computers, rather than being issued like conventional currency. It involves math, technology, social dynamics, and economics, and although it has been around since 2009, it’s rapidly gaining traction. In this guide, readers can learn about some of the basic concepts of bitcoin while getting answers to some common questions.

The Effects of Bitcoin on the World Economy

During the last few years, bitcoin has rapidly risen to global prominence. In becoming the world’s leading cryptocurrency and a top performer among currencies overall, it has gained an astounding 35% over the past year. However, attaining this level of recognition hasn’t been easy. Bitcoin’s association with crimes such as the narcotics sales and money laundering that commonly occurred on dark-web sites like Alphabay and Silk Road, as well as its high level of volatility, left conventional financial market participants very wary of its risks.

How Bitcoin Has Changed Banking

skyscrapersBitcoin’s potential impact on the central banking system should not be underestimated. The BIS, or Bank for International Settlements, which is owned and operated by the world’s top central banks, observed that Bitcoin could potentially affect their ability to control the global economy and issue currency. As of the time of this writing, many of the world’s central banks are closely monitoring Bitcoin developments. Others, such as the central banks of Ecuador and Canada, have already taken action by creating proposals for issuance of digital versions of their countries’ fiat currencies.

Bitcoin’s Effects on Industry

Bitcoin has recently brought changes to a range of industries as well. Most industries that accept Bitcoins as payment are run online. For instance, Cheapname, which provides domain registry services, accepts payment in the form of Bitcoin. Other online companies like WordPress, which allows users to set up personal and professional blogs, also accept Bitcoin payments. Finally, Steam, a gaming platform, accepts cryptocurrencies as well. Bitcoin’s success has brought it from the online realm into the brick-and-mortar world. Virgin Galactic, a company with a known preference for state-of-the-art technology, research, and development, somewhat unsurprisingly accepts Bitcoin, as does Elon Musk’s Tesla car company.

Bitcoin’s Political and Societal Effects

Along with its benefits, Bitcoin brings a fair amount of political upheaval. As stated before, it is not controlled by any single government or bank. Because it’s a highly individualized type of wealth, and because of the cryptography involved, no state can take away that individuality. As people begin to understand that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are advantageous because they’re governed by code rather than by human bias, the political controversy is likely to continue.

Cryptocurrencies’ effects on society haven’t yet been fully realized, nor will they be felt immediately. Despite the rise of digital currency, it is just now becoming mainstream, and many people are still unsure how Bitcoin works. An increasing number of sellers are accepting cryptocurrency payments, and it’s a matter of time until more follow suit.

How Bitcoin May Affect the World’s Future

Most of today’s international and digital transactions use one type or another of virtual credit or currency. Bitcoin is built to provide the same convenience and security assurance afforded by credit, while bypassing additional processing fees and time requirements. International remittances, or payments sent home by those working abroad, are the area with the biggest growth potential for cryptocurrency. As of now, money sent home must pass through several wire services, banks, and currency exchanges.

According to a recent Businessweek study, the average international remittance fee was 9% of the total transferred, with cash conversion costing an average of 5% more. Companies like Western Union work on profit margins of nearly 16%, and many of their costs are incurred because of the technology involved in moving money from place to place and guaranteeing transactional legitimacy. In short, what these companies spend billions of dollars to accomplish, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can do at no cost.

Which Sectors Will See the Most Significant Changes Because of Bitcoin?

Many of today’s financial experts predict that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will be the biggest disruption since the Internet was created. With the number of industries that can potentially be affected by this technology, it’s easy to see the truth in these predictions. While the financial sector is testing and using blockchain tech to increase operational efficiency and decrease per-transaction costs, other sectors face potential effects, as listed below.

  • Private transportation: The industry will see potential disruption in two forms; the development of eWallets for in-car use, and the advent of decentralized, blockchain-based, peer-to-peer ridesharing. For instance, companies like Innogy, ZF, and UBS are now developing eWallets that allow auto owners to quickly and seamlessly pay for parking, tolls, and electric car charging with the car’s blockchain-based, built-in eWallet. Ridesharing services are likely to increase as a part of the global sharing economy, and basing these services on blockchain tech takes the control away from central third parties. Here, owners and riders can agree on ridesharing terms and conditions via secure, smart contracts. Startups currently building such services include Israel’s La’Zooz and New Hampshire’s Arcade City.
  • Cybersecurity: This has become a popular topic among corporations and individuals as cybercrime becomes more common around the world. In fact, the World Economic Forum highlighted it as one of the biggest risks in the world. Because of its immutable, decentralized nature, blockchain technology can be utilized to prevent the theft of data, because that data is stored using secure, safe cryptography. Furthermore, blockchain tech can be used to build a more secure Internet that’s less vulnerable to distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks. Startups like Nebulis are developing new blockchain-based domain name systems, which can’t be harmed by DDoS attacks.
  • The distribution of music: Today’s music industry will also be affected as cryptocurrency changes the way things are bought and sold. Several startup companies are using blockchain to change the way music is shared and royalties are paid, further disintermediating an industry that has previously been heavily centralized. These companies are building new ways for artists to sell their albums and singles directly to fans, with no need to go through a record label or other distributor. This will create a more open, fair music industry where artists receive direct payment and are able to form closer relationships with listeners.
  • nurses and doctorsHealthcare: The health sector will greatly benefit from the use of blockchain tech. Hospitals and nursing facilities often struggle to securely warehouse and share data, and they regularly fall victim to cyberattacks. Using the distributed ledger method to safely share and store data will improve the security of that data while allowing for more accurate, faster diagnoses.
  • Storage in the cloud: Most sectors are wholeheartedly embracing the concept of cloud storage. However, with the current condition of the cloud, the sector’s users must trust third parties such as Dropbox and Google to safely handle their important data. However, by combining blockchain and cloud storage, that doesn’t have to be the case. Startup companies are now allowing users to share unused space with others for a low fee. This creates a crowd-sourced, decentralized storage solution that’s less likely to suffer from data loss and cyberattacks.
  • Management of the supply chain: This industry is primed for serious blockchain-related changes as it continues to focus on transactions that must be noted in a transparent but secure manner. There are multiple startups working on blockchain-related supply chain management methods.
  • Voting: One of the most significant areas of societal disruption will be the use of blockchain tech for vote tallying and voter registration. As the world saw during the last US presidential election, a process in which the Russians were alleged to have interfered, a publicly viewable, immutable ledger of votes would be a big step toward fairer, more democratic form of global politics. Several startups are trying to hack the democratic process by creating online identity verification and voting processes that use blockchain technology.

Some of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency skeptics are starting to accept that blockchain will play a substantial role in various industries by storing, recording, and sending data in a low-cost, secure manner.

Tips for Investing in Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s exploding popularity has created a significant buzz among investors, traders, and consumers. Low fees, high transaction speeds, increasing values, and other factors have convinced millions to adopt the cryptocurrency as a primary method of exchange. Large trading groups have capitalized on the Bitcoin boom, but in this turbulent environment, dedication and discipline are two requirements for success. Below are several tips to help investors turn that volatility into an advantage.

  • Become a technical analysis expert: Bitcoin’s nature makes it much different from other currencies. As there’s no governing body to affect its value, it’s highly susceptible to effects from outside sources such as news event. Bitcoin’s value model is highly speculative, and it disregards a large portion of conventional financial theory. Understanding how to perform technical analysis is an important prerequisite for entry into the cryptocurrency market.
  • Set a pace that’s sustainable for the long term: As in conventional financial markets, trading isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. One of the most vital steps cryptocurrency market participants must take is to establish a schedule that can be kept over weeks, months, or even years. No one can do their best trading at all hours of the day and night, and the ideal practice is to set a manageable timeline by focusing on optimal trading times.
  • Stay updated: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are unique in that most news events’ effects on the market can’t be predicted. There are no inventory reports or GDP releases to influence pricing and increase participation. However, unexpected happenings can significantly affect the price of Bitcoin, and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the news feed, just in case.
  • Implement a stop-loss policy: Long-term volatility is a Bitcoin attribute that’s especially compelling to active investors and traders. Valuations can fluctuate by up to 10% each day, which creates ample opportunities for traders who are willing to take a few chances. Whether a trader works in the Bitcoin futures, CFD, or cash markets, a stop-loss policy is essential. It’s important to use a stop-loss somewhere in the market to protect open positions.
  • Use leverage wisely when trading or investing in Bitcoin: While it seems cliché, leverage really is a double-edged sword. It magnifies one’s gains, but it substantially increases their losses as well. If leverage is excessive, an investor is more likely to mismanage their money and lose everything. However, too little leverage can inhibit performance because trades may not always perform to their full potential. In the end, effective management of leverage is a delicate balancing act, but it’s an important one for Bitcoin investors to perform.

An easy way to define a position’s size is to use the 3% rule. Under this guideline, only three percent of the trading account’s total is assignable to each trade. This ensures that the risk matches the reward in regards to stop-loss location and position sizing.

In Conclusion

The world is quickly approaching the ten-year anniversary of Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency, decentralization, and blockchain are continuing to evolve. Cryptocurrency is in a bit of a bubble right now, and like others, the bubble will burst eventually. Surviving currencies such as Bitcoin will become the Amazon, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan of the next few years, and they may even form the basis of future governments.

As existing players enter the system, they will leverage their power to protect the system from outsiders. Decentralized currencies will become a parallel economic OS for the world, especially in countries that saw the most significant effects of the US dollar’s dominance. However, to accomplish these goals, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have to become indispensable.

Laptop and email interface

Etiquette Basics for Business Emails

Five years ago, analysts with technology research firm, The Radicati Group, Inc. predicted more than 130 billion business emails would be sent and received each day by the end of last year. Current figures indicate we’ve met those expectations in full force. This form of communication has not only inundated the business world but transformed it. In light of this development, understanding proper business email etiquette is the key to conveying professionalism and authority in today’s online landscape.

Building a Winning Email Strategy

Email has certainly become the norm these days, leaving some a bit lax on the finer points of the game. As a result, many formal emails fall short of delivering on their intended purposes. To carry a professional image, business etiquette dictates certain elements should be included.

  • Straightforward Subject Line: Subject lines are our first, and possibly our only, opportunities to grab recipients’ attention and convince them reading further is worth their time. These shouldn’t, under any circumstances, be left blank. Of course, a vague generic description, like “read this now” reeks of spam and could be equally ineffective. Be direct and concise regarding the email’s contents, such as “End-of-Year Marketing Report Attached”. Specificity greatly increases the chances of an email being opened and read through.
  • Appropriate Salutation: Salutations are also crucial components of business etiquette. Openings like “Dear”, “Good Day”, “Greetings”, “Hello” and “Hi” all serve nicely in a professional environment. These should be followed by the recipient’s name. While “To Whom It May Concern” and “Dear Sir or Madame” once ruled the world of formal salutations, they’re both considered somewhat off-putting in the modern-day sense.
  • Writing a business emailFull Signature: Be sure to add your signature to business emails as well. Though these shouldn’t drone on beyond five or six lines, they should definitely contain your name, email, company designation and phone number. All these give recipients ample ways of contacting you directly in the email, so they don’t have to spend extra time looking up your information elsewhere.
  • Be Thorough: Regardless of how many past exchanges you’ve had with a recipient, it’s important to provide details. Compose each email as if it were the first communication between the two of you, briefly but fully covering the subject at hand. This helps avoid confusion and prevents recipients from having to scroll through previous conversations to remind themselves of what you’re talking about.
  • Follow the Rules of Writing: Though the world has become fairly lenient when it comes to the ins and outs of written communication, business email etiquette places great emphasis on them. Write in complete sentences with proper punctuation and capitalization in all the right places; otherwise, you’ll appear sloppy or even uneducated in the eyes of others.

After all is said and done, be sure to proofread before sending. Walk away for a few minutes and come back to it, so you’ll read what you wrote rather than what you meant to say. With all these elements in place and careful attention to detail, you’ll build a well-crafted formal email strategy sure to draw the attention of coworkers, clients and prospects.

What to Avoid in Business Emails

Just as certain components should be part of your winning email approach, some things should be left out of the mix. Allowing anger or frustration to sway your good judgement could be considered the most vital point on this end of the spectrum. Other factors to sidestep include:

  • Sharing Private Info on Group Emails: This may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget who and what are involved in a hasty moment. Never share private contact information or files in group chats unless you have explicit permission. Doing so compromises security and trust, and it could get you into quite a bit of legal trouble if the breached individual decides to take the situation that far.
  • Five guys jumping in the air

    Humour is suitable for the working atmosphere, but not in a professional email.

    Using Humor: Humor is a wonderful gift when used in face-to-face exchanges, but it tends to lose something in digital translation. Statements that might be hilarious in person could be taken as outright offensive via email, so just don’t make the attempt. It’s better to come off bland than boorish.

  • Inserting Informal Features: Casual acronyms certainly have their places, and emoticons are capable of brightening people’s days, but there’s no room for them in business emails. Smiley faces, LOLs, excessive exclamation points and other non-essentials tend to detract from professionalism, so leave them out of the mix.

Last but not least, don’t leave an email sitting in your inbox unless it’s the definitive end of a conversation. If a recipient took the time to read an email from you and respond to it, return the courtesy.

Professionalism is vital when it comes to online correspondence where facial expressions, vocal indications and other communication tools don’t apply. Follow these rules of email etiquette, and you’ll be all set to impress. Attention to detail takes a little extra time and effort, but it pays off in the grand scheme of things.

The Arrival of Automation: Will a Robot Take Your Job?

The Arrival of Automation: Will a Robot Take Your Job?

The Arrival of Automation: Will a Robot Take Your Job?Job automation has arrived and it’s already saving manufacturing businesses a good deal of money. But with tech masterminds like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk celebrating the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and automated labor, there’s reason for some workers to be worried about their jobs.

How Artificial Intelligence and Robots Save Money and Put Jobs in Jeopardy

How Artificial Intelligence and Robots Save Money

Human workers have a lot of needs. Sick days, paid holidays, minimum wage, government-mandated lunch breaks and other hallmarks of a humane employment situation can attract talented workers. But these perks aren’t necessarily good for the bottom line, especially when it comes to menial jobs with high turnover. Robot workers, on the other hand, don’t really need much other than some routine maintenance and the occasional big fix for an equipment malfunction or software bug.

It’s no surprise, then, that some businesses are bringing in robots to take the place of their low-level employees. With high rates of productivity and no need to worry about everyday HR concerns like salary and performance reviews, robots are proving a worthwhile investment. It’s an attractive prospect that has many business leaders wondering how they can replace some of their human laborers with computers, machines, and robotics that operate autonomously and perform the same work for less than a human employee.

As it stands now, we’re still in the early phases of the predicted robopocalypse of job automation, but if recent innovations are any indication, the robot job takeover could happen sooner rather than later. In particular, open-source artificial intelligence (AI) efforts such as Elon Musk’s OpenAI make the source code for AI programs available to anyone who wants to use it. This could make it much more efficient for developers to write code for computerized bots and other artificial intelligence, even at smaller companies and startups.

Which Jobs are at Risk?

Which Jobs are at Risk?

This all means that skilled and unskilled labor jobs, particularly those focused on tasks that involve repetitive gestures and the creation of identical items in an assembly-line fashion are at high-risk for robot replacement. Many laborers, especially those in automotive manufacturing, are already seeing large-scale job loss as manufacturing bots move onto the factory floor. Construction may be next as robots prove their worth in manufacturing and, in March 2017, the CEO of Taco Bell and KFC’s parent company indicated that he sees a big future for automated food prep in the fast food industry.

Even some menial office jobs, particularly those fulfilled by receptionists and assistants, are considered prime targets for automation. Paralegals, whose jobs are largely based on fact-finding, could also see themselves made obsolete by the right artificial intelligence (AI) program on their lawyer boss’ computer. But some higher-level jobs may also be at risk. The senior VP of digital marketing could feel the squeeze when marketing automation makes the human involvement in everything from social media posts to email blasts all but unnecessary. A manager may be needed to monitor feeds and other such oversight tasks, but the menial labor will likely be taken over by a specially coded computer program. And as more and more jobs get taken over by robots, recruiters, temp agency workers, HR professionals and others who deal with the human side of labor may also feel the squeeze.

However, there are plenty of jobs that aren’t considered to be vulnerable to job automation. For example, we aren’t at the point of letting the robots program or design themselves, so anyone who wants a secure career future may want to start learning how to program AI and engineer robotic machines. It’s highly likely that robots will be used to service and repair other robots, though, which means that a displaced factory worker who hopes to a robot mechanic isn’t exactly setting a realistic long-term career trajectory.

History and the Robot Uprising

History and the Robot Uprising

So will a robot take your job? If you’re a low-level worker in fast food, automotive manufacturing, bookkeeping, financial analysis or other industries in which menial, repetitive tasks are the name of the game, you have good reason to be worried. However, that doesn’t necessarily spell a future of widespread poverty. After all, if a significant percentage of wage earners are completely displaced by automation, the economic impact could do immense financial damage to the companies investing in robot workers in the first place. If no one can afford to buy cars, what’s the point of having robots build them in the first place? Job automation allows for high levels of productivity, but that productivity isn’t worth the investment if it isn’t actually driving revenue gains.

There’s also a question of the human touch. Job roles such as bank teller, financial advisor, and even movie star are said to be on the chopping block, but nuance and emotional awareness are notoriously difficult tasks for AI to master. Anyone who’s become frustrated by Alexa or Siri’s inability to understand pronunciation subtleties knows this firsthand. AI will likely get better at human-style interaction with time, but will that really mean that the benefits of social interaction itself become obsolete?

The point is that future jobs will likely look different than the jobs of the present day, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any jobs for humans. This false assumption dates all the way back in the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I of England denied a patent to a man who’d invented the automatic knitting machine. The queen was afraid that such a machine would make it impossible for poor women and girls to earn money with their knitting skills. Hundreds of years later, textile factory jobs ended up being a boon to many, especially after the introduction of safe labor practices and fair wage laws.

Even the 20th century had its fair share of unfounded hand wringing over the prospect of new technologies. Economists in the 1960s raised the alarm about computers taking jobs and destroying the economy, but they actually facilitated the creation of dozens of new career paths. Job automation may be the end of work as we know it, but likely not the end of work altogether. So, while robots in the future may take all or part of your job, historical context tells us that there will likely be another opportunity waiting for you in the brave new automated future. What will the future and technology hold? Self-driving cars, 100% person-free labor market with humanoid robots doing everything people once did? Though a robot takeover seems a little farfetched right now, who knows what the future skills of robots will bring.

smart contract

Useful Etiquette Rules For Business Meetings

Many assume that proper etiquette is all about sending thank-you notes, using the right fork at mealtime and dressing appropriately. However, where the professional world is concerned, a person’s behavior and planning processes speak to their professionalism, and the smallest misstep can damage one’s career. Below are several business meeting etiquette rules to know and abide by.

Use Full Names During Pre-Meeting Introductions

Many people have difficulty associating names with faces, especially in the conference- and convention-filled business world where introductions are a daily occurrence. During business meetings, it’s important to use full names when making introductions. When clients know a person’s last name, it’s easier for them to make connections on LinkedIn and other professional-oriented social media sites.

Don’t Fidget

It’s natural to become a bit uncomfortable when sitting through a long meeting. However, crossing and uncrossing one’s legs can be distracting. Rather than fidgeting and shifting in a seat, meeting attendees should find a comfortable position and stick with it as long as possible.

Refrain From Eating or Chewing Gum

Every office worker has dealt with the smell of someone else’s food, which can make it hard to concentrate during a long meeting. Unless a business meeting is to be held over the course of a meal, attendees should avoid eating during that time.

Keep Questions Short and to the Point

Business meetings are the perfect time to bring up concerns and questions, and when the right people are there, good answers are more likely. However, if one’s inquiries have made the meeting run late, they’re wasting everyone’s time. Try to save important questions for the meeting and, if necessary, follow up with a post-meeting email.

At Dinner Meetings, the One Who Invites, Pays

No one likes the awkward process of splitting a dinner check, especially when answers come simply. If one invites colleagues or clients to a meeting, they pay for the meal. Regardless of whether it’s a coffee meeting or a full business dinner, the one who does the inviting pays the tab.

Use Email and Chat Functions Wisely

As risky as the function can be, it’s a useful way to relay important information before or after a meeting. For instance, let’s say that a colleague sends a group email asking for pre-meeting details. If one responds to only the original sender, everyone else is left unaware. Conversely, having one’s email inbox filled with useless, irrelevant group emails can be quite annoying. If details are sensitive or specific, be sure to remove those who don’t need such information. You should also follow certain rules on the telephone to ensure professional communication.

Keep Thank-Yous to a Minimum

While showing one’s appreciation is acceptable, excessive gratitude can seem insincere. At the close of a business meeting, one sincere, confident “thanks”, along with a firm handshake, is sufficient.

In Closing

In the business world, politeness and professionalism are about more than dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Proper business meeting etiquette, along with solid planning, can help make meetings more successful. If professionals follow these rules, they will find it easier to get ahead in their careers.

Business Dress Etiquette

As much as everyone tries not to make judgments based on appearances, the way a person looks plays a crucial role in their business success. In the business world, appearance is often conflated with performance, and those who don’t fit the norm aren’t always accepted. In the workplaces of today, where ‘casual Friday’ has extended to the entire week, it’s hard to understand business dress rules. Below are a few basic dress etiquette rules to follow.

Understand What’s Acceptable for the Industry

Every office’s dress code is different, and to be successful, one must follow along. For instance, in a casual office, one may be allowed to wear shorts, but cutoff jeans may be forbidden. If the company has an explicitly stated business dress code, workers should follow it.

Wear Well-Fitting, Office-Appropriate Clothes

If a person’s clothes are too small or too big, they simply won’t look good. Ensuring proper fit applies to everything a person wears, including accessories, clothing, and shoes. Women should avoid excessively short hemlines, stiletto heels, deep necklines, and exposed undergarments. Men should make sure their ties, coat sleeves, and pants are of the proper length, and they should be sure to wear a belt to keep things where they should be. After all, in the business world, it’s better for one to be remembered for what they said rather than what they wore.

Avoid Strong Fragrances

Not only are strong fragrances distracting, they can cause asthmatic and allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Anything that someone else can smell isn’t good. To determine whether a particular scent is too strong, one should ask a trusted friend or colleague for advice.

Wear Neat, Polished Shoes

Bosses and recruiters often say that the first thing they notice about a candidate or employee is their shoes. It’s important to keep them polished and in great shape, and women should avoid wearing excessively tall heels in the workplace.

Use Hosiery Wisely

While many women still prefer a bare-legged look, pantyhose have become stylish once more. They give the wearer a more polished, professional look. For men, it’s important not to show any skin when legs are crossed and pants lift up slightly. Prevent these problems by wearing socks of the correct length.

Get a Pedicure

One of the biggest distractions in the office occurs when women wear open-toed dress shoes without getting a pedicure. If one decides to show their toes, those toes should be well-groomed and clean.

Use Accessories Wisely

A person’s accessories are meant to add to their outfit, not overwhelm it. It’s very distracting when someone’s jewelry makes noise when they move, and other pieces, such as watches, should be understated.

Keep Facial Hair Groomed

Regardless of how much a man wants a full beard, it may not work in the office setting. Embarrassing situations could arise, e. g. when eating. Men should think of grooming their beards in the same way they would think of a haircut; not every look works for everyone. Start by determining one’s facial features and shape, and find others with facial hair and similar features. Finally, experiment with cuts and styles until an office-friendly choice is found.

If a man decides to grow a beard or mustache, he should do so over a long weekend or a vacation. That way, the growth will look intentional, rather than giving the impression that one simply hasn’t shaved. Facial hair should be kept neat and tidy for a professional appearance. Scissors are useful for trimming a mustache, while electric razors are great for trimmed, short beards.

Wear Richer Colors to Convey Confidence and Authority

Professionals should pay careful attention to their color choices; darker colors often make a stronger and more memorable impression than lighter hues. If one is giving a speech or presentation, they should ensure the colors they choose don’t blend in with the backdrop against which they are standing.  However, it’s important to be careful with brighter shades. When a person’s clothes are too flashy, they may distract other workers.

Other Dress Tips

Office workers should remember that a business dress code isn’t always synonymous with good style. Adding patterns and colors to one’s work wardrobe is an easy, fun way to exhibit one’s personality while retaining a professional look. Investing in staples such as reversible belts and wrinkle-free clothing can make dressing for work easy and effortless. No matter what one wears to work, it should be pressed, clean, conservative, and stain-free.

In Conclusion

Dressing for corporate success is not just about looking nice. The way a person dresses can have positive or negative effects on how a person is perceived in the professional setting. By following these tips, one can present a polished image that makes them look more credible.

a business telephone

Proper Business Call Etiquette: Saving Face Over the Phone

Following its invention during the late 1800s, the telephone became an integral component in business operations. Despite all the technological advancements brought about since that time, the phone still holds its own in the business world. Voice-to-voice communication is – such as face-to-face communication – just faster, simpler, and more personable than the alternatives in some cases. Using proper telephone etiquette, though, could make a world of difference in the outcome of a business call.

Send the Right Message

Business calls require a balance of professionalism, amiability, and common courtesy. Finding such a balance isn’t always easy, but it’s essential. As a general rule, the phone shouldn’t ring more than three times before being answered or the person on the other end of the line may feel the call isn’t as important to you as it is to him or her. At the same time, picking up immediately has a way of catching a caller off guard. From there, attitude and technique are everything.

  • Smile before Answeringsmiling woman on the phone

    Though the person to whom you’re speaking can’t see you during a traditional call, he or she can usually sense your disposition. Whether your heart is in the smile or not, it’ll change the tone of your voice to a more pleasant one.

  • Names are Important

    We’re all individuals, and we like to be treated as such rather than just another sale or business opportunity. If the caller or callee doesn’t offer an introduction during initial contact, ask for a name. Remembering this identity for future reference is equally critical.

  • Use Your Voice

    Speak clearly and somewhat slowly while holding the phone approximately two inches from your mouth. Any farther away would leave the other person straining to hear you whereas holding the phone closer tends to make voices more garbled. Speed-talking is equally counterproductive.

  • Give Appropriate Answers

    In the midst of a business call, the phrase “I don’t know” shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary. It’s unprofessional and off-putting to the person on the other side of the conversation. If you don’t have an answer, say something to the effect of “Let me look into it” or “I’ll check on that.

  • Avoid Lengthy Holding Patterns

    No one likes to be put on hold during a call, but it’s sometimes unavoidable. Should it become necessary, be sure to ask if it’s okay with the other person. If you expect to be otherwise engaged for a considerable amount of time, it’s better to ask for a phone number and call back the other person later. In the event you realize mid-hold you’ll be held up longer than anticipated, check back in to let your conversation partner know you’ve not forgotten about him or her and follow callback protocol.

  • Break the Vicious Cycle

    Getting the runaround on the phone may very well be the most irritating aspect of calling. Never transfer someone without a courteous explanation, do your best to ensure you’re transferring to the appropriate party, and always be sure the person you’re transferring to is available for conversation.

  • Politeness is Essentialman on the phone

    Always be polite to the person to whom you’re speaking even if he or she isn’t returning the favor. Choose your words carefully. You’ll inevitably run across people who take everything you say as an insult but do your best to keep things on a diplomatic level.

  • Conclusions are Crucial

    End every call with a pleasantry, such as “thank you for your call” or “have a great day.” Don’t hang up until you’re sure the other person has nothing else to say.

As an added hint, keep your purpose in mind. Business is increasingly making its way into the home, and that can be a precarious scenario on occasion. Helping the kids with their homework or yelling at the dog and cat to stop fighting during this type of call isn’t exactly conducive to a business environment. If necessary, find a quiet room away from commotion and distractions to conduct phone calls.

At times, doing business over the phone can be easier and more productive than communicating via text or email. It also brings a more personal touch to an increasingly digital world. Though the benefits of vocal interaction are many, lacking proper phone etiquette could hamper productivity.

Mergers

Mergers And Acquisitions: Past, Present, And Future

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have become a major part of the modern corporate landscape. Under this process, two businesses will either combine to form a single entity (merger) or one will purchase the other (acquisition) and, typically, take over its operations.

With startup culture thriving and businesses needing to think on their feet to stay afloat in the changing financial landscape, the thought of absorbing a potential competitor or bringing in a new asset to revitalize operations is more appealing than ever. A dataroom can be a secure and highly useful solution to support all M&A transactions.

In fact, 2015 and 2016 were the biggest years ever for major M&A transaction acquirers and post-merger integration. The tech industry, in particular, is a focus for M&A activity, but it’s not the only arena in which this can be a smart strategy. Learn more about what companies considering either a merger of assets or an acquisition need to contend with in the digital age.

New Challenges Posted By Digital Acquisition

Acquisition

Digital acquisitions are a driving factor in the prevalence of M&A transactions across the globe, but there have been some notable failures in this arena in the past. Most startups are created with the end goal of being acquired by new parent firms that can boost the brand and provide access to new resources for the continuation of successful innovation.

But not all corporate parents are ready for this kind of responsibility. There are many legal and financial factors to consider in the M&A process, but when it comes to digital businesses, there are a few additional elements to watch out for.

Corporate Culture Differences

Digital businesses operate differently than what most seasoned businessmen and women are used to seeing, and it’s driving major corporate culture changes that pose major challenges for acquiring companies.

From flexible work arrangements to relaxed leadership structures and a focus on innovation over the status quo, tech company employees are often used to management and office environment styles that are much different from what their new bosses are ready to present.

calture

But tech companies often build a culture around the service they provide, meaning their users come to expect a certain ethos and style from the products they love. Sometimes, there’s not enough attention paid to the unique, intangible factors behind a tech company’s success. Initial valuation doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, Condé Nast acquired Reddit in 2006, but its plans for the site weren’t initially clear.

After a couple of years, it became obvious that Condé Nast and its parent company, Advance Publications, simply didn’t know what to do with the Reddit brand. The old-school publication approach wasn’t going to work well with the Wild West style Reddit thrives on.

Reddit was never going to be able to successfully rebrand as a straightforward online publication and it didn’t take long for Advance Publications to cut Reddit loss and restore its independence. However, rather than selling Reddit off entirely, Advance Publications remains a majority shareholder in the company, making its initial investment a bit more worthwhile.

Reddit’s original founders took back over and are steering the site (relatively) smoothly into the future. Replicating the original success of some of these companies’ founders isn’t always an easy prospect, especially if the acquiring company doesn’t have a deep, organic understanding of what the product is all about.

Plans For Integration And Improvement

Ideally, a tech merger or acquisition will benefit both the buyer and the seller in the long term, not just in the temporary sense of jumping stock prices and a sky-high sell out the payday. Companies that buy tech startups really need to think carefully about how they’re going to integrate this new technology into their existing approach and how they can improve this new technology even more.

new technology

Very few tech companies are sold having reached their full potential. Arguably, no tech company will ever truly reach its full potential since there’s so much room to innovate and grow in this area. So the acquiring organization needs to have a game plan in place to justify the purchase and ensure it’ll pay off in the long run. Often, it seems that corporate acquisitions are motivated by a certain degree of cluelessness.

There are a few high-profile examples of this. Fox’s 2006 purchase of MySpace, for example, couldn’t have been more ill timed or poorly managed. Right as Facebook was starting to rise, Fox bought MySpace and made a strange attempt to repurpose the social media site into a music-focused portal, but the shift was abrupt and, most importantly, wasn’t really responding to any particular demonstrated need.

It was a clumsy attempt to leverage one of the more successful elements of MySpace, independent music discovery, into a more profitable model, and it failed miserably. Plus, there didn’t seem to be much, if any, investment in improving the MySpace user experience, which left the stalwart social network vulnerable to the challenge posed by upstart Facebook’s streamlined design. Five years later, Fox sold MySpace for a massive loss. Fox just wasn’t ready to do what needed to be done to make MySpace enduringly successful.

Realistic Cost/Benefit Analysis

Both of these factors point to a broader issue: how will the acquiring company benefit from the presence of this new brand? Due diligence is different on this new frontier. Most tech startups aren’t yet profitable at the time they’re acquired.

The acquisition itself is considered the necessary step in that brand’s road to financial success. Valuation numbers can appear sky-high and a buyer that isn’t savvy enough to really understand tech may think that valuation tells the whole story. But it doesn’t.

Realistic

To successfully integrate a valuable new entity into the fold, the acquiring organization needs to carefully determine how this new tech product will actually bring in revenue. There needs to be a plan in place for helping the digital asset reach its full potential. Simply acquiring a digital company isn’t going to suddenly transform everything.

The acquiring organization has to have a specific reason why this particular entity is a good fit for their mission and needs to be prepared to nurture their new acquisition immediately following the sale and in the future. Post-merger integration isn’t an organic process but a deliberate, well-organized effort. If a corporate parent can’t think of a way to integrate the new brand, chances are they won’t benefit from the purchase very much, if at all.

Why Do M&As Fail?

We’ve just given some examples of failed (or nearly failed) M&A efforts in the tech space, but this isn’t the only area where an acquiring parent can succumb to blind spots and bad analysis. There isn’t a single reason why a merger or acquisition fails; each one presents its own case. However, there are some consistent factors. As indicated above, a failure to properly plan and consider what the new brand will do can really do a lot of damage.

prolonged

Simply seeing that an entity is successful on its own does not provide sufficient evidence that that entity will continue to succeed once acquired or merged. There are examples in other industries of a company that overestimates the value a new asset can add. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, Teva Pharmaceuticals’ purchase of Allergan’s generics business resulted in claims of gross overpayment from both investors and financial analysts.

There are a few reasons why the deal was thought to have failed before it even went through. For one, Teva was somewhat desperately chasing a solution to the potential revenue gap caused by the patent expiration of its most expensive branded medication. But there were also external factors in play, including the prolonged scrutiny from US and EU government regulators responding to growing public anger over drug prices.

This isn’t to say that the acquisition can’t pay off for Teva in the long run. But the ball was already rolling, the deal in progress, when external factors arose to make the deal seem less beneficial. Depending on who you ask, it could be argued that Teva didn’t really have a way of seeing what was coming when they pursued this option. As with all business activities, M&A is a calculated risk.

The key is to actually perform those calculations before taking the risk rather than diving in headfirst without really analyzing all potential outcomes. Focusing on the human element, both in terms of the people who make up the newly combined organization and the consumers who will respond, is an essential part of the process. Numbers alone can’t tell the whole story.

The Current And Future M&A Landscape

There have been a few notable M&A events in 2017 that indicate just how much businesses can benefit from either merging with or acquiring (or being acquired by) another organization. One of the most notable is Amazon’s $15 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, signaling that the e-commerce giant credited with destroying retail may realize that in-person purchases remain highly appealing for many consumers.

Landscape

Amazon’s exact intentions remain a mystery, but it’s safe to say they wouldn’t have spent such a massive sum on an uncertain strategy. Some companies have used M&A as a strategy to sidestep the traditional IPO process, which is exactly what Purple Mattress did in the summer of 2017.

Direct-to-consumer mattress sales are big business and Purple actually merged with a publicly traded shell corporation, which instantly gives Purple public status and secured the mattress manufacturer a $1.1 billion valuation overnight.

Another 2017 M&A, this time the acquisition of a startup, MindMeld, by an established industry leader, Cisco, highlights one reason why M&As have become so common. MindMeld is an AI startup that built a conversation-monitoring bot that can interject useful information in the midst of a conversation.

Their initial use case involved running the program in the background on a mobile device at all times so user conversations could be annotated and supplemented with information. The problem? Not many people are interested in having their private conversations tracked in this manner. But Cisco can certainly make use of this tool to supplement their corporate communications technology.

On its own, MindMeld likely wouldn’t have found its market, but as part of Cisco, it’s got a clear and sensible purpose. Tech is by far the hottest sector for M&A activity; as a whole, tech, media and telecommunications (TMT) made up the lion’s share of deals reflected in Deloitte’s 2017 M&A index.

There’s no reason to assume this won’t continue, especially as startups continue to receive the necessary funding to develop technologies that will be highly appealing to potential parent companies looking for a way to secure relevancy in the coming years.

Startups can continue to expect some sort of corporate interest from large, established companies, though whether this will level out as more and more companies realize they’re not making the best long-term investments remains to be seen.

Healthcare may also be a sector to watch and not just in the space where it overlaps with tech. However, an uncertain legal landscape surrounding the industry in both the US and the EU may lead to more potential disasters like Teva/Allergan. Retail is also an interesting industry for M&A. Will Amazon/Whole Foods go bust or will it result in the retail apocalypse some are predicting?

We’re currently living through a major M&A boom and it’s hard to know what the future holds. It could be that this is just the way it is now, but antitrust watchdogs and competition advocates might not be too happy to see small enterprises slowly get absorbed by larger entities.

2016 did see a slight dip in M&A activity from 2015, but that may have been a result of the wild uncertainty associated with politics and finance last year. This year isn’t necessarily more stable, but it could be that organizations have adjusted sufficiently to bounce back to previous highs. Even if 2017 doesn’t match or top the two previous years, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of interest in M&A. Acting on that interest could be the right move.

Covered table for a business dinner

Business Dinner Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts of Dining with Colleagues

Business dinners are ideal means of interacting with associates outside the office environment. Though plenty of opportunity for showing off a well-balanced blend of professional and social skills awaits in such a setting, lacking in either could result in disaster. No doubt your business sense can hold its own, but understanding the conventional dos and don’ts of business dinner etiquette could make all the difference. If you keep these things in mind, you will be able to successfully conclude your business dealings.

First Things First

Entrances tend to set the stage for the entire event. Although a number of people prefer to blend quietly into their surroundings rather than make themselves known, the first order of business is to shake hands with everyone at the table. Introduce yourself to those whose acquaintances you’ve not yet made. From there, the next few elements are largely a matter of watching the host or hostess.

  • Don’t sit until the host or hostess has been seated.
  • Napkins should be placed on your lap but only after the host or hostess has done the same.
  • Discreetly try to overhear his or her order, and choose something similarly priced for yourself. Alternatively, ask the host or hostess for recommendations.
  • Along those same lines, don’t order an appetizer, cocktails, and dessert if your host asks for nothing more than iced tea and a hearty salad.

Simple, polite greetings, introductions, and following the host or hostess’ lead should get you through the first portion of the experience nicely. Having said that, quite a few other rules apply in a scenario like this.

Pay Attention to What’s in Front of You

place setting on a dinner tableDinner at home isn’t generally a formal affair. A plate, spoon, fork, napkin, and drink are all you need to achieve dining success. When in an upscale establishment, though, a few extra pieces work their way into the puzzle and can cause considerable confusion. In general, formal place settings include, from left to right:

  • Salad Fork
  • Dinner Fork
  • Dinner Plate
  • Dinner Knife
  • Salad Knife
  • Soup Spoon

Bread plates and butter knives appear on the left above the forks, and water and wine glasses sit to the right above the knives and spoon. If there are a spoon and fork above your plate, they’re reserved for dessert.

Remembering which piece of flatware serves what purpose can be tricky, but you basically start from the outside edges for salads and appetizers. Work your way inward for the main course. Keep the bread plate and glasses in their respective places to cut down on mix-ups with those seated next to you.

Moving Further along

Since the host or hostess can’t be your guiding light for the duration of the event, having your own level of savvy goes a long way toward making a great impression. This is where the matter gets a bit more involved.

  • Should others arrive at the table after you’ve been seated, stand to greet them.
  • Don’t pull out guests’ chairs for them. This is a nice gesture on a dinner date, but it’s not the norm in a business setting.
  • While asking the server a few questions regarding the menu is acceptable, requesting long explanations about several of the available options leaves everyone at the table waiting and has been known to generate animosity among dinner acquaintances and waitstaff alike.
  • Break off bite-size pieces of bread and butter each individually.bread on a small plate
  • Cut one or two bites of food at a time rather than carving up an entire steak or chicken cutlet in a single session. Cutting salad and pasta into manageable bites helps foster politeness as well.
  • When talking with others around the table, place silverware on your plate rather than slinging it around. Also be sure to swallow the food in your mouth before speaking.
  • Should conversation turn to religion, politics, or other potentially heated topics, politely opt out of the discussion or offer a brief, neutral response if addressed directly.
  • If a sneeze or cough arises during the meal, turn toward your left shoulder and block it with your left hand. Keep in mind, napkins and tissues aren’t interchangeable during a business dinner.
  • In the event you need to excuse yourself from the table for a moment, there’s no need to provide an explanation. Simply place your napkin on your seat and push it under the table.
  • Avoid asking for a take-home box if you don’t finish your food.
  • Convention dictates the host or hostess is responsible for both the check and the tip, so don’t argue when time to pay comes around.
  • Be sure to thank your host or hostess for the meal.

You have ample personal and professional knowledge to bring to the table. Combining these attributes with proper business dinner etiquette is the key to successfully interacting with colleagues in a slightly more personal setting. Keep these aspects in mind during your next business dinner, and you’re bound to make a good impression.