By George Fair
At its core, conducting business is about how we relate to other people. Here are four tenets of business etiquette that small business owners can use to maximize their relationships and minimize misunderstandings:
- Don’t make customers or colleagues wait, no matter how well you know them. Arriving late to any professional engagement is never a good idea. Whether it’s your first meeting with a client or your hundredth encounter, making someone wait is the fastest way to lose their interest and their trust. If you are prepared and show up a few minutes early, it will help you relax and send a signal to the person or group you are meeting that you have respect for them and their time.
- Show that you are paying attention and be an active listener when others are speaking. You know that feeling when you are sharing something you care about with someone and you aren’t quite sure they care? Give your full attention to people as they communicate with you or they will feel ignored, foolish or judged … but definitely not heard. Being an active listener is partly what you do when the person is talking and partly knowing what to say when they look to you for a response. If you stay alert, show empathy for their concerns and respond appropriately, your business relationships will be more honest, engaging and productive.
- Don’t rely on just emails for praise – send personalized, handwritten “Thank You” cards. In a digital era where adding a personalized touch to business communications is a lost art, what better way to stand out than to send a “Thank You” card with a handwritten message that comes from the heart? It’s very easy to fall back on email as the only way of communicating your appreciation for someone’s business or hard work. However, when you combine those same sentiments with a printed card that contains a personal note of thanks, it shows that you took the time to do more than just copy/paste and hit send.
Another effective way of saying “Thank You” to those you do business with is to add a promotional product to go with your card that you can send as a gift. These days, there are thousands of items to choose from that you can imprint your logo on and even add personalized messages. Think about the person you are sending this out to, and then choose a promotional item that best suits their interests. Such thoughtfulness will be well-received and it will go a long way towards strengthening the bond between your brand and your colleague or client.
Did You Know? More than half (58%) of recipients keep a promotional product anywhere from a year through 4 years – before passing it on – (source: PPAI)
- A promise is a promise! If you make a business arrangement, follow through on it. If you commit to do something for someone, make sure to follow through in a reasonable time frame. It’s important to strike the right balance between getting the job done fast and prioritizing jobs in a way that makes the most sense for your business and your clients. If you make promises, keep them, and try not to guarantee anything you can’t realistically accomplish.
Be authentic in your actions
All of the tenets above will serve you well when you conduct business. The most important thing to keep in mind as a small business owner is to simply be you. The more genuine you are in your conversations and presentations, the more business you will attain. That’s why I always say to potential and current Minuteman Press franchise owners that it is important to believe in what you do, through and through.
After all, when business is done right, authenticity and business etiquette will fit comfortably together, hand in hand.
George Fair is area manager for Minuteman Press International for the Pittsburgh region providing ongoing support to Minuteman Press franchise locations in his area. Learn more about Minuteman Press franchise opportunities at http://www.minutemanpressfranchise.com. Tweet to Minuteman Press @minutemanintl.