I frequently talk with business friends all over the country and most of them think there is an attitude problem in business. Are we being rude? What basic tenets of business culture are falling through the cracks? Should we all go back and watch a few episodes of Mad Men?
We all want to blame and find a scapegoat for the TROUBLES in society. Consider a list of factors: increased technology; increased pressure on time; increased cost of living and so forth. The expectations can be targeted through such a variety of options on how to get there, no wonder people keep getting lost.
Getting back to center so we can move forward together, consider 5 business etiquitte and manner standards to maintain.
1. Never count your friend's money. From startups spending venture capital to well established companies keeping close watch on budgets, there are all types of money managers in any business community. The most successful looking person might be limited financially and the more conservative-appearing person could be ready to buy. Avoid making assumptions about people's power to purchase or influence others. If you want to assume something, assume that everyone has money to buy a product or service that truly adds value. If you treat everyone fairly and confidently offer good value, the business will grow organically.
2. Good business etiquette starts with respect. When people hear their friends are self-employed or operate small businesses there are a variety of responses. You rarely hear someone say, "Oh, that's easy, anyone could have done that." or, "I don't respect self-employed folks." Respecting all businesspeople as equally viable is good etiquitte. You know not everyone is a big fish, but showing equal respect sets a scene where really, anything is possible in free enterprise. When doing business out of town, be mindful of local cultures and expectations in social and business settings.
3. Respecting people's time should be a standard expectation. Do you ever sit in a waiting room too long and feel less important? If the person you're waiting to see is already behind schedule, should you be quick to not take too much of their time? What was it that made the person I came to see so late? When we make other people wait for us we open the door to these questions and their possible answers. Always know how long a person has to meet, and if you don't know, ask them. Being on time for a meeting and ending a meeting on time are equally imporant and noticed when done correctly. Recognizing another person's time at the end of the meeting also opens the door to continuing the conversation at the next meeting. Always schedule a next event at the other's scheduling convenience.
4. Take the time to get to know your friend before you jump right to business. Assume people do business with friends they know, like and trust. Get as close as you can to earning that friendship before you get right down to business. If you set a cold transaction tone from the begining, that's likely what you'll experience. When your number shows up on caller id, will you be someone they are pleasantly surprised to talk to or are you the one who just wants something? Think about all the people you talk to in a week and imagine how you respond to their calls, emails or meetings. Work on building solid friendships and the business and referrals will follow.
5. Follow up with your friends when you have a lead, referral or know about an upcoming event. Make a list of people you want to keep up with and do business. Find a reason to send an email, comment in social media or pick up the phone to reach out and say hello. Business friends require attention and maintenance just like your personal friendships. Don't forget to be a legitimate friend first and remember that you both know what one another does and when ripe, the work will be there.