Top 10: Basic Business Etiquette

Executive Summary: Landing the work has enough challenges in meeting the scope, schedule, and cost requirements of the client. You’re defeating yourself if you can’t be polite and practice simple business etiquette.

Low hanging fruit. If your client has been kind enough to consider doing business with you, don’t give him or her a reason to escort you out the door over something as simple as your behavior. Practice good business etiquette.

Top ten. Whether old school or new school behaviors, being polite and professional never goes out of style. Here’s a list of things to do, or not:

  1. Answer your phone – if your phone rings, someone needs you. At a minimum, try to pick it up if even to say you will call the party back.
  2. Respond to your emails – if you are terrible at email, but better at phone or text, consider using an auto-reply message that redirects the person emailing you.
  3. Dress appropriately – be that person who dresses just a bit better than the minimum required attire. If jeans are required, wear clean jeans or khakis. If khakis are required, wear ironed khakis and nice shoes. Especially when you’re on site with a client who’s paying you to be there – look professional.
  4. Complete email signature – put all of your contact information in your email signature (more specifically your phone number and physical address). This applies to emails sent from your office or from your mobile device.
  5. Stop kicking the can – if you’re not interested in regular contacts from a potential vendor, tell that vendor. He or she has better things to do than contact you regularly – and so do you!
  6. Say thank you – do I really have to explain this?
  7. Adjust your hours for customers – if you deal across multiple time zones and a transaction (be it sales or customer support) is just five minutes of your time, find a way to fit five minutes into your schedule “outside of work hours”.
  8. On time is late – be five minutes early to any appointment.
  9. Be overly clear in communication – don’t be afraid to restate what you think is obvious.
  10. Turn off your phone in meetings – it’s not necessarily the phone ringing that’s the problem, but the attention to email, texts, and other apps. Give your client the courtesy of your attention for the short time you’re with them.

My story. Each of us can relate to falling victim to, or perpetrating, one of these actions. No extraordinary story here, just every day in the business world.


Also published on Medium.