"No, I can talk now."
September 2, 2015
You have heard it said time and time again that first impressions matter, and they do. Professional attire, a strong handshake, a respectful attitude, prompt timeliness and appropriate conduct are crucial. What matters just as much, though, is maintaining a high level of professional etiquette throughout you career. We have advice from our experts on how to master business etiquette to help you succeed and get ahead.
Etiquette for resume references:
You never want to catch a reference off guard, so the most important thing to remember is to ask them ahead of time to be a reference for you in your job search. Sue from Gap, Inc. says, “Make sure you get permission from a contact to list them as a reference before providing their name and information to an employer. Provide the contact with a summary of work you completed, what you learned, and how you contributed to their team or project. If you did not work for them in the past, provide the contact with an idea of why you are asking them to be a character reference.” Give them as much information about your past work experience, your education, your involvement in organizations or extra-curricular activities at school, etc. so they can speak intelligently and thoroughly to any recruiter or potential future employer.
Lunch date etiquette:
It is often a great networking idea to ask people either in your current field or a field you would like to be in to have lunch with you. Lunches like these can be a more casual way for you to learn more about an industry, a company, a specific role, or even just to build connections and relationships. Dawn, a hiring expert from Daikin Applied, advises total transparency: “I highly encourage you to be transparent and upfront with your intentions when you arrange work meetings. You may find that your clients will indeed feel manipulated or caught off guard when they are not appropriately prepared to address your questions. You many consider sharing both of your anticipated topics when requesting the meeting. This way, you are giving your client the opportunity to accept and evaluate how they will respond to each request.” It’s important to clarify why you are asking this person to have lunch with you so they can be prepared and on the same page. Any good relationship, especially professional ones, are best built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect. Nikki from Fifth Third Bank adds: “I would be up front in letting them know that it is networking. I would keep the conversation open and ask questions about them and how they came to be where they are, then dive in and let them know just a bit of your background and where you are headed.”
Online networking etiquette:
It may seem like a more casual and informal place, but even websites like LinkedIn come with expectations for professionalism. Rachel, hiring expert at Eaton, gives these tips: “A couple of things to keep in mind when you are connecting with others: (1) be honest; (2) pay attention to grammar & punctuation; (3) research the company you are interested in working for; (4) know and be able to clearly articulate what you want; (5) be realistic in your expectations.” When you connect via a site like LinkedIn, you are a total stranger to the person you are contacting. Make sure you present yourself well. Use good grammar, spell any names correctly, keep your messages brief and direct, and give them a glimpse of your personality while keeping things professional and respectful. Dana from ManpowerGroup also says: “In regards to outreach, I think it is becoming much more common for candidates to connect with recruiters or HR staff at a prospective employer via LI.” In other words, it isn’t proper etiquette to reach out to the CEO or other high-level employees on LinkedIn at first. Connect with the people who can help you enter in to the company instead.
Maintaining a professional, respectful, confident and capable manner is essential no matter what your job is. When you can master these tips and tools for proper etiquette, you’ll be more successful as you grow in your roles.