Posts

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.

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.

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.