Everyone knows someone who could use a few lessons in business etiquette. And while their occasional missteps may sometimes make a few of us laugh, we’re all hopeful that those stories aren’t related to any of us. Business etiquette doesn’t have to be complicated, but there are certainly some bad manners that can be easily avoided at business meetings and events, including seminars, conferences, business meals or cocktail receptions. Avoid these meeting etiquette errors and you should be fine.
1. Failing to respond to the RSVP
Etiquette Scenario: You are a manager in the company and receive an invitation from the director of another department in the company, inviting you to attend an important product launch. The RSVP requests that you call a specific individual to confirm your attendance.
You put the invitation to the side of your desk, and it quickly gets covered by a stack of work. Two weeks later the inviting host calls you up and extends a personal invitation, also asking that you interact socially with key customers at the launch. At that time, you give an enthusiastic, “yes”.
Etiquette tip: Respond within five days of receiving any invitation.
2. Failing to follow the dress code
Etiquette Scenario: The printed invitation you left 10 weeks ago on your desk served as a scrap piece of paper for some random conversation since then. The product launch is a breakfast seminar at a local hotel.
Because you work at a software company where the dress code is always business casual, you’re wearing khakis and a long sleeve shirt. You’re greeted at the registration table by a colleague in the company, and then step into the meeting room and find everyone else is wearing business attire.
Etiquette tip: Read the invitation prior to the event and recognize the dress code information. When in doubt, always overdress for circumstances.
3. Failing to arrive on time
Etiquette Scenario: The invite agenda of the product launch you’re attending indicates arrivals at 8:30 a.m. and opening remarks at 9:00 a.m.; there’s a breakfast buffet for guests during this time. You look at your watch and its 8:50 a.m., feeling confident that you arrived on time.
In a hurry, you failed to notice the two internal emails that were sent, summarizing the agenda and asking that you arrive between 8:00 and 8:15 a.m. so that corporate managers are present when important clients arrive (and some always arrive early).
Etiquette tip: Corporate managers and staff are always expected to be the first to arrive at an event.
4. Failing to extend the correct handshake
Etiquette Scenario: With 10 minutes on your side before the presentation begins, you scan the room to quickly acknowledge colleagues and check if you recognize any specific customers.
You walk past two or three clients wearing name badges and say hello to another corporate manager, shaking her hand. Then, you grab a plate of food and bottle of water. With both hands full, you’re finally ready to say hello to a client.
Etiquette tip: Nobody is interested in shaking your wet, clammy hand. Shake hands after you’ve properly eaten and washed. At this point, greet verbally and your client will understand.
P.S: I have divided this post into two, I will share the second part next week.. watch out!!!!
Source: Funmi Victor-Okigbo (FVO) is the Chief Executive and Lead Production Designer of No Surprises Events. Her corporate client base spans industries as diverse as technology, entertainment, banking, government and consumer goods across sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a contributor on Bellanaija.
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