Etiquette and Civility Training Certification

The Power of Relationships through Etiquette


Etiquette plays a role in all we do from servicing our customers, to the way we dress, send a text or email to the way we dine. But it is the little things that count on a regular and consistent basis that will separate you from your competition and give you that special edge.


It takes only seconds to make that separation from being good to being the very best.


There are many forms of connecting and building relationships. Consider it a pyramid and each block will support the other. Start with a strong foundation, then prepare each level of growth strategically, put your plan into action and grow collectively with everyone on your team.


You create these split-second first impressions which include your appearance, attitude, handshakes and introductions, your technology skills (emails, texting), business and dining skills and even exchanging your business cards.


Technology connects people.


We can now add over hundreds of active sites for social networking. Social networking between businesses is a quick, inexpensive, and productive way to promote your brand and image around the world. YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn are just several sites to expand your base of customers, increase your exposure, and to share ideas in a matter of seconds. Use it, but don’t forget to connect on a personal basis.


Never let these technology marvels insult or be disrespectful to the person next to us. We need not allow social media to replace personal communication. We need to remember to meet, greet, smile, have eye to eye contact, shake hands and talk to one another. Just remember the differences between social media and social graces. Set standards for your staff and even your customers on the standards of electrical devices in a restaurant. Make the meal and the people the center of attention, not the person on the phone at the next table.


Dress appropriately.


Your appearance is definitely a first impression, so make it your best. When in doubt about what to wear to an event, ask your host or hostess. It is always better to be overdressed (to a minimum) than to be underdressed. Make people notice you, but for the right reasons.


The appearance of your wait staff sets your tone. Do they look uniformed in a clean, well-fitted, pressed and immaculate appearance? The appearance and attitude of your team sets your standards.


Don’t just talk about business.


Events are networking opportunities. You can approach someone to set up a future meeting and exchange business cards, but leave the brochures and proposals at the office. Read the newspaper, watch the news, and be familiar with the latest in restaurant facility management. Always be prepared and knowledgeable.


Here’s how to start a conversation.


Make it easy by talking about the weather, current events and topics that are appropriate to the event or situation. Avoid politics, personal questions and religion. Most people love to talk about themselves, their jobs and families. So engage them in that conversation. If you are in doubt, follow the 20-80 rule in communication: talk 20 percent and listen 80 percent.


It is amazing to know that if you just ask for help you will receive it. Try these openers:


“This is my first time to this meeting, do you have any tips you could provide?”


“I have been waiting all year for this Annual Conference; can you give me any suggestions that would help me over the next few days?”


“I am so excited about attending this meeting, I noticed you have been talking to so many people and was hoping you could introduce me to a few people.”


Make a concerted effort to network.


Where do you go first when you enter a reception or event? Most people will walk to the bar first, the buffet or food area second, and their friends third. All three are great ideas, but wrong. Walk in and go meet someone new. Always try to greet your host or hostess at the beginning of the event. Don’t stay long with them; just thank them, exchange a few comments and move on. They have a lot of people to meet and greet. Remember that this is a reception and not a time to have brochures. Just your business cards and a great smile.


In most cases, you can receive the list of attendees in advance of a conference or meeting. Ask for this list and review it. Know the audience and the people or companies you want and need to meet. Call or email them in advance to set up a meeting during a coffee break or over lunch at a conference. If there is a free evening, offer to take them to dinner, but start small. A new client or acquaintance is more likely to give you 10-15 minutes instead of hours of their time. Immediately follow up with material or proposals from the discussion and meeting.


You can set up an introduction through a third-party. This takes preparation, so allow enough time. When the meeting is arranged, be extremely professional, and have your business card ready. Follow up immediately with a handwritten note to that person expressing your pleasure in meeting them and for the opportunity to work with them in the future. Thank your third party host also.


Start and end your conversations with a nice, firm, handshake.


Look the person straight in the eye, say his or her name and give a nice firm, two-shake handshake. Always be ready to meet and greet. Keep your right hand empty of food and drink, whenever possible.


Introductions are important, and remember “HOW.”


The rule of thumb is to introduce the person with less authority/rank to the person of Higher rank. Say the higher-ranking person’s name first in the introduction. When rank is not involved, introduce the Older person to the younger, and introduce the Woman first. There are exceptions, but this is a good starting point. If you are introducing two new people, use their names in the introduction and include a brief explanation about both. It helps start their conversation, and allows you to exit.


RSVP, gifts and thank-you notes are always necessary.


When you receive an invitation – either personally or professionally – you need to respond. If your plans change, you need to advise the host. You cost the planner unnecessary dollars and planning time due to a lack of response. Remember that only the person or people listed on the invitation are invited. Do not feel free to bring others if they do not appear on the invitation.


If a friend or associate has invited you to their home for a party, bring a gift, but not flowers. Flowers may not match their décor and they will need to stop to find a place to place or arrange them. If you bring wine, make sure they drink alcohol and that is not yours to open that evening and drink. It was a gift for them to enjoy after the event. Make the gift enjoyable for them and fit their style, not yours. The host will appreciate your thoughtfulness, too, if you thank them personally at the end of the party or event and send a personal, handwritten note the next day. Flowers would be appropriate the following day.




Etiquette & CivilityTraining and Certification


Deborah King


Written by Colleen A. Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA, CPECP, co-founder of Global Protocol, Etiquette & Civility Academy and Colleen Rickenbacher, Inc.


If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog, you may do so. Please include our credit information: Written by Colleen A. Rickenbacher, Global Protocol, Etiquette & Civility Academy © Copyright 2013. We would also appreciate it if you would send us a copy for our files.

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