The explosion of the internet in the 90’s introduced the world to a new group of renegade millionaire entrepreneurs that were brash and not afraid to run their businesses how they saw fit. They were tired of the old business culture of wearing suits and carrying briefcases. They went into the office in Hawaiian shirts and flip flops because they wanted to, and more importantly because they ran things and could.
A whole generation of kids grew up watching this new breed of CEO do things radically different and succeed off it. This became the ideal millennial dream of working independently or in an environment where they could come in anytime, wear casual clothes, and play ping pong all day.
This was a revolution of the traditional business environment and changed things for the better because it forced corporations to consider employee satisfaction as an important metric for their success.
That being said, in the haste to change everything, I think we lost some good things along the way.
In particular, business etiquette. I’m a big fan of basic decency and business etiquette.
I believe that it can immensely increase your professional success.
Here are 7 areas I like to focus on:
- Show up on time
Growing up with a German dad, the importance of punctuality was ingrained in me daily. It shows whomever you’re meeting that you respect their time and your time. Giving someone respect for their time automatically puts you in good standing with anyone. If you are going to be late, make sure that you text or call ahead to let them know your eta.
A smile can make someone’s day. It can put another person at ease because they see that you’re relaxed. It let’s people know that you’re enjoying their company and that you enjoy life. When you radiate positivity, it attracts people to you like a magnet.
So go get rid of your resting bitch face (applies to men and women) and smile more. Become approachable and you automatically increase the chances of meeting interesting people.
3. Look someone in the eye when you speak with them
Not looking into someone’s eyes when speaking to them is one of my biggest pet peeves. It makes me wonder what you’re hiding.
When speaking with anyone, speak legibly and look people in their eyes. It communicates confidence and seriousness about your conversation.
4. Do what you say and mean what you say
Another pet peeve that drives me up the wall is: not coming through after committing to something. The million excuses that follow about why you didn’t accomplish what you said you would just makes you look foolish and not like a serious person. Greatness is determined by the consistency of your performance. Imagine how valuable you are to management when they know they can depend on you to come through no matter what. This frees their time and makes them look good.
5. Pick up the phone!
Texting and email are great newer forms of inter-office communication. They offer us quick, instantaneous messages and responses.
However, don’t forget to recognize which communications should be done with a phone call or requires an in person meeting. It’s funny to see how much more our smart phones are being used to browse, tweet, or text than to speak with other people.
A good example, if an email chain goes back and forth more than 3 times, pick up the phone with the other person to review the topic.
6. Have a professional phone voice
Although millennials don’t use the phone nearly as much as people used to; hiring managers, mortgage officers, and bankers probably do.
Make sure that you practice a professional phone voice and have a professional sounding voice mail message.
No one will take you seriously if you don’t.
7. Dress for success
I love wearing my baseball cap, T-shirt, and sneakers but I wouldn’t wear that to a professional meeting. I’m not recommending wearing a suit and tie everyday (unless you work in the financial industry or are a lawyer) but it is important to look well put together and have your clothes fit.
It is amazing how someone’s perception of you can change based on the way you dress. Dressing in tailored clothes goes a long way in looking well put together. Other people see success when they see someone well put together. It could mean the difference for your next promotion or closing on an important deal. Little steps in the right direction add up over time to amount to big results.
Bonus – 8. Don’t look at your phone when you are in a meeting
Make sure that the other person feels like you’re present and appreciated. It goes back give others respect for their time.