In Tri Delta’s new series, “3 For You,” we’re covering the best tips from experts as we navigate our current situation during COVID-19. Tri Delta alumna and etiquette and protocol consultant Lynn Teel, Texas Christian, shares her three best pro tips for business etiquette and professionalism. Read her three tips below, or listen to the podcast.
A lot of our collegiate women, especially seniors, will soon be making the transition from college to career. Business etiquette and professionalism are even more important now because the job market is changing, and we aren’t face-to-face as frequently. Etiquette and protocol consultant Lynn Teel shares her three pro tips for professionalism that will help you set yourself apart in a positive way, regardless of your age or position in the job market.
Tip #1 Check Your Appearance
We make a first impression within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, so appearance is important. A Harvard Business School study found that two snap judgments are made by appearance: Is this person trustworthy? Are they credible?
A good outward appearance signals to others that your other qualities are likely good, too. Your attention to appearance details translates into attention to detail at work. When in doubt, notch it up and err on the side of formality. This shows how important you think your audience is and shows respect for yourself and the position.
If you’re going to a job interview, research the company for what is expected and appropriate for the situation, and make sure what you’re wearing translates to the situation based on the research. Remember, you should look the same on a video conference from home as you would look if you were meeting someone face to face. You want to be pressed with no wrinkles. Don’t wear your pajama top in a video interview! Make sure you have good hygiene, that your hair is combed and you’re neat and clean—this is even more important now when we’re working from home.
Chck your body language. Sit up straight, make eye contact and smile! Remember, you want to put clients or potential employers at ease regarding your skills. When mentoring employees, dress as you would like them to dress. Always be your best self because you never know who’s watching.
Tip #2 Be On Time
Being late is the number one breach of business etiquette. This is important for a meeting, appointment, deadline or social function—whatever it is, be on time or even a few minutes early Being late is disrespectful and inconsiderate, and repeated tardiness can breed resentment. Remember that punctuality is a choice and demonstrates that you respect others and honor commitments. If for some reason you are late, always start out on a positive note rather than apologizing for being late; your time is no more important than someone else’s time. Things happen, so just keep everyone else informed as to why you’re running late if it happens.
Tip #3 Communicate Professionally
Someone who can effectively communicate thoughts, ideas, and feeling is better equipped for success both on the job and in personal relationships. Sloppy email is one of the top breeches of business etiquette. Professional emails should reflect correct business language at all times. Make sure you proofread before you hit send. All spelling, grammar and punctuation should be correct. Even though we’re trying to be friendly and connect, lose the emojis and extra exclamation points.
From an interview perspective, be sure to follow up with a thank you email immediately after an interview because hiring decisions can be made quickly. Send a handwritten thank-you note, too, in addition to the email. Handwritten notes will help you establish report…who doesn’t love getting a handwritten note in their mailbox? There is no substitute for tangible expression, and you’ll be remembered in a kind way.
The other part of communication that’s so important is conversation. Always have 10 questions ready for any encounter. As a job applicant, always have questions for the interviewer. Be able to make small talk…it can lead to big opportunities. Your degree may get you in the door but your life skills help you get and keep the job. If you practice proper business etiquette and show yourself as a person of grace and intelligence in any situation, you’ll go far.