MJD Editor Rachel Kaufman’s Note: We’re beta-testing a partnership with Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog where we syndicate content from the blog on a weekly basis. This one’s from Dan Gershenshon, a Chicago-based consultant.
Sit up straight. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Write thank you notes to people who give you gifts or attend events in your honor.
These are the kinds of things that we learn early on in life. But good manners, with several updates that apply to this stage of your life, can say a lot for who you are as a person, which ultimately can translate well into your brand. Business etiquette, dining skills, how you dress…all of it has a significant impact on the customer’s image of you, your employees and your company, whether or you like it or not.
Shake Their Hand, Not Their Confidence
As someone who used to get caught having to shake someone’s hand just after I’d eaten something, don’t do that patented move of wiping your hands on your pants just before you do a handshake with someone. Nobody wants to press the flesh with someone who has greasy or clammy palms.
The Best Pen Is Mightier
Once when I was formalizing a business relationship, I pulled out a pen that was handy nearby for the prospect to sign. The gentleman signing the document gave me some good-natured ribbing when he said, “Wow, you’re really going all-out with that pen. A real Mont Blanc you’re putting in my hands.” While he was sort of kidding, I got the point. You don’t have to spend hundreds on a pen, but don’t sign important documents with a cheap ballpoint. A pen is not just a pen.
Put The Ball in Their Court For Lunch
I would sometimes anxiously sweat over choosing lunch meeting locations like crazy. I put so much pressure on myself due to how I felt it meant everything to how that person would judge me. Well, it’s not everything but it’s still important. The easy route is to let them choose the location, which most of the time they do. That way, if it isn’t to their liking, at least they can’t say that you were the one who made the bad call.
A Better Pre-Game Warmup
Don’t go into the meeting looking like you know nothing about the other person giving you their time. Ideally, both parties should do this studying up (really, if you were hiring someone, wouldn’t you want to know a little about them in advance?).
Check out their website, their LinkedIn profile and some other sources online. Showing that you’ve taken some to learn about some aspects about them (personal and professional) in advance to avoid them retelling a story that you should probably already know going in. I’m not talking about a full report. Even when you’re crunched for time, just a 10-minute scan on your smartphone can help set a better impression from the beginning.
Some items are messier for lunch than others. I’m a fan of Italian as much as anybody, but if you’re wearing white, avoid marinara like the plague.
Oh, Was That Your Water?
Yes. It was on the left side and you just drank it. Your water is on the right. And your bread is on the left near your main plate, not the right.
If you invited the person to the lunch meeting, you should strive to be the one to pay. Once I had a person invite me to lunch and it was clear that he had no intention of paying. He didn’t even offer. That’s bad form in my book. Sure, there have been times I’ve split the tab if the other party fights me hard enough (after all, part of etiquette is not making a scene), but definitely go in expecting to be the one who pays if you invite them to lunch.
I have work to do on some of these issues above, as I’m sure many others do. So even though it might hurt your sensitive side just a little, take a look at contacting a Corporate Image Consultant for a consultation. There were times I wondered why I needed to pay attention to these little things. Well, you don’t want these little things to derail you from the big things you want to accomplish for your personal brand’s success.
Things like tipping at restaurants and body language may or may not seem small to you, but if they’re bigger issues to your client, can you afford to chance it? I didn’t think so.
Dan Gershenson, a veteran of several advertising agencies, is a Chicago-based consultant focused on brand strategy and content marketing. Dan has guided a variety of CEOs and Marketing Directors at small to medium-sized companies, providing hundreds of strategic plans to help businesses identify their best niches and areas of opportunity. When not providing people with a road map for their brand or showing agencies how to position themselves differently, Dan blogs on Chicago Brander, mentors advertising students and cheers relentlessly for the Chicago Bears. Dan graduated from Drake University with a degree in Advertising.