Advice for Students

National Business Etiquette Week

June 06, 2012  |     |   0 Comment

Close Up Handshake Men in Blue - istockBloomStra Consulting is joining the Protocol School of Washington in celebrating National Business Etiquette Week from June 3 – June 9, 2012.  Here are some terrific business etiquette tips from the PSOW:

1.  First Things First: Dress

Make sure you have an ‘updated’ look and wear a little make up (“some make up” is professional).  Keep outfits neutral (black, grey, navy, taupe). Pull hair back if it’s long and hide the grey. Keep jewelry simple: Pearls – small and skinny for traditional; big and chunky for a trendy look.  Nails short and clean, light polish.  Shoes: closed-toe.  Men are judged by their shoes (keep them shined). Women: own a 3-piece suit (jacket, slacks, skirt) and two blouses.  Men, own a suit and one or two jackets with two tailored shirts.

2.  Making Contact

Make eye contact 40-60% of the time, looking in-between the person’s eyes. The lower you gaze downward, the more it conveys a personal (not professional) relationship. Shake hands in a firm web-to-web manner. Avoid the ‘limp fish’ handshake (conveys weakness), ‘politicians gloved’ handshake (too personal), Queen’s handshake (offering just your fingertips rather than your palm connotes superiority).

3.  Cultures Vary – Do Your Homework

Do you bow, kiss or shake hands with a business contact from another culture? (Chinese bow from the shoulders; Japanese from the waist)

4.  Remembering Names

Can’t remember names?  Join the club. Here’s a trick that will help: repeat the person’s name 3 times – when meeting, once in conversation, when saying goodbye.

5.  Avoid Hot Topics

Don’t discuss religion, money, sex or politics, even in casual settings – you never know if you’ll ‘hit a nerve.’

6.  Nailing e-Etiquette

Don’t text or take a cell call in a meeting, no matter how important. Keep PDAs on vibrate.  E-mails are traditional memos gone digital — do not use anger (e-mail lives forever in cyberspace and anger is bad for business, regardless).  Avoid humor — it doesn’t translate well on-line.  Use spell check.

7.  Dining Skills + Personality Testing

Twitter rocks, but business still gets done at the dining table.  Employers often take candidates to lunch to test dining and “personality” skills. Do arrive 5 minutes early.  Don’t order the most expensive dish. Don’t order a cocktail.  Don’t order ‘messy’ food like spaghetti.  Don’t eat like a ‘piglet’ – do butter and eat bread one small piece at a time; work utensils from the outside-in; know your bread plate is on your left and if in doubt, follow the host’s lead.

8.  Follow Up is Everything

Within 48 hours, send a hand-written note and hand-address the envelope to stand out in a digital world.

9.  No Biz Card Opportunity – No Sweat

Social Business Cards are THE new business networking tool.  These basic cards, with just a name and phone number or e-mail, are ideal for social events when business cards are inappropriate.

The Protocol School of Washington is North America’s only accredited business etiquette and international protocol school.  To learn more, please visit


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