Many business owners are so focused on their profit margin until they forget that one of the best ways to increase the bottom line is to simply “be nice”, which is called business etiquette. Even though a lot of business is done through technology, etiquette face to face and online is very necessary. Because of the new way of doing business in the 21st century, knowing what is proper and acceptable in business is not always apparent. Of course, when in doubt, the key is to remember to say and do things that make others feel good about being in your space and about doing business with you. This will allow you to build relationships that will lead to referrals, repeat business, and to long-lasting business friendships. Below are some tips that will help:
1. Send written thank you notes. Don’t let technology cause you to lose your personal touch. A handwritten note still conveys the very powerful message that you consider the person you are dealing with someone of value. There are times when sending a “thank you” by email is appropriate, for example, if you have been communicating with the customer/client mostly by email, continue to do so; however, if the meeting involved a face to face meeting that warrants a thank you, take the time to write a note. People hold onto handwritten notes much longer than they do an email. Even though an email can be saved, many people will read the thank you and discard the email. Sending a handwritten note, when so few are sent out today, will set you apart from your competition and it simply says you are a class act.
2. Return or respond to all phone calls. It is easy to ignore the phone calls of salespeople or of a business person you do not want to talk to; however, it is not prudent to do so. How you handle your daily phone calls says a lot about how your run your business, value your customers, and it gives a glimpse into how you feel about people in general. There will be phone calls that you will not want to address, but no one ever said that business was easy. Take the time to return all phone calls or have your assistant respond with respect for you. If you do not want what they are selling, thank them for the offer and respectfully decline. Depending on your product, you are sometimes ignoring a potential customer. If they are in sales, you may be ignoring someone who can connect you with a lot of people or send you the referrals you are looking for. Business is about building relationships, so keep in mind that the person’s call you are ignoring, maybe the one you want to talk to for a reason that could benefit your business and your customers.
3. Be interested in others. When meeting someone in business for the first time, do not pounce on them by immediately trying to sell your product. Yes, you may be in love with your product and it may be the best product invented since man discovered fire, but people do not care what you are selling until you show that you are interested in them. Selling a product without getting to know the person you are trying to sell to, sends a clear message that you are only interested in making the sale and that you could care less about the person. Take a moment and get to know the person you are meeting for the first time. Learn about their needs and assess if you can really help them, then do some follow-up and share your solution to their need, which that solution will hopefully be your product.
4. Get to know names and people. When you encounter someone in business for the first time, get to know their name and be interested enough to remember their name. Even if you have to ask them to repeat the name for you, make it your business to remember the names of people that you meet. A great way to remember the name of someone you meet for the first time is to repeat their name many times throughout your conversation with them. That means you must be more interested in learning about them, as opposed to talking about yourself. Learning about others will make you more memorable and it is just more proper.
5. Pay attention to who is in front of you. If you have someone in your office, look at them and not your computer screen. It may be hard not to be distracted with emails popping in, text messages buzzing, and phone calls coming through, so the best remedy is to silence everything when you are in a meeting. If you thought enough of that person to schedule an appointment, then respect their time and yours.
6. Give out one business card. Always give out one business card and never offer a handful of your cards to someone, while asking them for referrals. Focus on making a lasting impression when you meet with them, professionally present one business card, and let them know that you appreciate referrals. They will get the message. Besides, if you make a lasting impression, they will be more than happy to send you business.
7. Do your best to follow through. Keeping your word in business can help you establish a reputation for having impeccable integrity. That will make people want to do business with you and strong integrity is one of the best branding concepts you can attach to your business. When promising to do something in business, do your best to follow through. If you RSV’P for an event, it is important to show up or call the next day with an apology. If you promise to return a phone call, simply do it. If you create a bill or promise to do business with someone, follow through. Keep scheduled appointments or take the time to reschedule as early as possible. Following through shows that you are the professional business person you claim to be.
8. Never send revealing mass emails. If you want to send the same email to several people in business, respect their email privacy by doing a “blind courtesy copy”, that does not show everyone else’s email address.
9. Do not text the special of the day. If someone has not requested your business texts or you have no relationship with the person, do not send a text message asking for the business. Even if you have the best deal going, respect people’s right to privacy and peace.
Treating others in business the way you want to be treated will bring you the success and profits you desire for your business. Putting people before profits will position you to be in business for years to come. Practicing proper business etiquette will help you build long-term quality relationships and even when you are not expecting it, the business will come your way.