Turn Off That Cell Phone! Business Etiquette Still Counts

You’ve heard it too many times: the distracting, irritating, cell phone that rings or vibrates during the middle of a business presentation.

Smart phones, cell phones and BlackBerrys are wrecking havoc with business etiquette and manners. Their indiscriminate use is hurting business, and it could be your business if you’re not careful.

True story. An executive was sitting across the desk from a prospect making a business presentation. As the prospect was talking, the sales executive took out his Blackberry to check for messages. End of meeting, and end of sales opportunity. The prospect was insulted, and deservedly so.

Everybody wants to feel important. So if you’re in a meeting, give your undivided attention. How would you feel if someone was checking his emails while you were talking? What would Emily Post say about that kind of behavior?

The Old Rules Still Apply

Proper business etiquette hasn’t changed. The informality of today’s business environment — social media, casual dress and the virtual office has made people careless.

For example, many companies in a cost-saving measure have dispensed with receptionists. If a client is visiting your office for a business presentation, do you roll out the red carpet? Is someone stationed at the elevator to greet him, or does he have to pound on a locked door to get someone’s attention? Making a client wait in the reception area for 20 minutes is just not going to build a relationship.

Have you been in meetings where the host didn’t even offer a visitor a glass of water? This isn’t any way to treat someone.

Yet, some people make these flagrant mistakes and don’t even know it.

Mind Your Etiquette

Here is a simple list of reminders:

  •  Make a checklist. Prepare a list of things to do when you are scheduling a meeting: reconfirm the time, have someone greet your visitors, serve refreshments, have pads and pencils available, prepare handouts and test the audio visual equipment in advance to be sure it’s working. Make visitors feel welcomed and positive about you and your company. If there are several people at a meeting who don’t know each other, think about using name badges. If you are visiting a client or prospect, be on time, dress appropriately and follow up with a thank you note.
  • Listen attentively. Give a speaker your undivided attention. Put away your cell phones, IPads and laptops. It is rude to be multi-tasking while someone is talking to you.
  • Follow up. In addition to sending a thank you note, if you promised to do something, then be sure to follow through.

Why don’t executives follow these simple rules? We’d love to hear about your experiences concerning business etiquette – both the good and the bad. Please feel free to leave a note in the comment box below.

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