When people admire how far along a startup business has come, usually, they think that its credit to the entrepreneur in question's amazing business skills, vision and hard work. And, of course, conversely these are the very talents that they believe an unsuccessful businessman must lack. Well, are certainly important skills to have but often, in many cases, there is a secret ingredient involved that no one ever thinks of. It is a real mastery of business etiquette – people skills that help win people over.
The first thing you need to understand about business etiquette is that it's quite a bit different from the social etiquette that we all practice in our daily lives. For instance, business etiquette requires you to treat everyone equally regardless of gender. You aren't supposed to pull a chair back for a female business colleague. Or hold the door open. In the workplace, this tends to look patronizing and you could easily end up alienating female work colleagues in this way. Basically, business etiquette is about decency and basic courtesy. That should be your guiding spirit. So, without further ado, let's dibve into this in a little bit more detail.
When you introduce two people to each other you need to speak to the lower ranking person first, and announce the higher ranking person to them. Do it the other way around, and you could offend the more important person.
You need to develop the proper handshake etiquette to get ahead in business. Your handshake needs to be firm, but not powerful. Try to think of your handshake – does it feel good and pleasant or it it overpowering or, worse , limp and wet? Women in business may sometimes forget that they need to shake hands. Well, they do – as we have said, workplaces tend to be genderfree.
There are a number of mistakes that there are to be made in the way you handle electronic communication. For instance, you don't want to call someone at a time that isn't convenient for them – and this applies even more if they are in a different time zone.
You don't want to simply add the name of a business contact to your personal e-mail list and send jokes or funny anecdotes to them or, equally awkward, Friend them on Facebook. When you're making a conference call, you need to make sure that you follow all the normal rules of business etiquette, and introduce all parties in the correct order.
In the end, even if you do completely master every nuance of polite business behavior, you have to expect that at some point, you'll slip up in a way that's a bit unfortunate. When that happens, you have to have a backup plan. Usually, this will involve a sincere apology.
For more tips on how to succeed in business, please check out the blog run by 99 City Road – a successful Conference center in London which hosts international business events for blue chip companies.