Sunday, March 31, 2013

Business Philosophy in China

Chinese business etiquette is closely linked with country's culture and its history.

In this article we will try to explain the philosophical base of Chinese business etiquette.

It is necessary for better understanding your Chinese partners and for evaluation of their behaviour.

Confucianism and Taoism are the two main philosophical sects in China, which have had an impact on the Chinese way of doing business for centuries, and nowadays still have been influencing and remain important.

Interpersonal relationships are the main core in Confucianism. And nowadays it has a great influence on Chinese mentality and social behaviour.

  • One of the most important aspect of Confucianism is mutual respect and interpersonal trust in society.
  • There are two main doctrines that have an impact on business negotiations: hierarchical social relations and the concept of saving face.
  • Confucianism defines the hierarchical relationships in society as follows:

Managers and followers, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger, teacher and pupils. The first protect and guide, while the others respect and follow. In Confucianism obedience and adherence to these rules is regarded as the path to harmony in society.

In China, we can notice that the doctrine of the hierarchy is still present in many companies and management systems.

Also, in business negotiations it is important to determine a key person or a manager from your company, which will have the same status as the Chinese key person or manager.

  • There is also as a concept of saving face in Confucianism.
  • This concept is needed to create harmony in social relations.
  • There is an example of the influence of Chinese culture on the bargaring.

Suppliers from China do not refuse to reduce prices. As bargaining about the price is also a part of Chinese culture. But still they will say "NO" to your target price for the goods, in order to save your face, and also will control the negotiation process.

Understanding of Chinese philosophy of doing business will help you to achieve your business goals, and also will help you to understand actions of your business partners. However it does not mean that you can avoid misunderstandings, it will just help you to better analyze the partners, and gain a stronger position in negotiations.

Famous Chinese strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu (author of Art of War) said:

"Know the enemy and you do not have to fear the result of 100 battles."

Of course your Chinese partners do not real enemies. But it is better to be always aware the Chinese way of doing business is still totally different from the European. China is needed to lear.

Golf as a Business Tool

Two of my passions in life are sales and golf, so why not mix business with pleasure? Those of you who are golf fanatics and business men (and women), and you know who you are, probably already know and understand the subtle nuances that the game of golf has in common with the sales process.

The first obvious advantage of taking business associates, customers and prospects on a golf outing is that you can have a captive audience for the 4-5 hours, not including downing a few cold ones in the club house after the round. There is no more acceptable excuse in the business world for spending that amount of time together with your customers than a round of golf. More and more business people are taking up the game and as the average age of this generation of baby boomers continues to age, golf is becoming more and more popular. If you haven't taken up the game yet, you might consider investing in a few lessons just in case. One of the worse things you can do is invite a big customer or a potential prospect who is a serious golfer on an outing, only to hack it around the course for the next five hours. Slow play is a killer on the golf course and there is no better way to try your partners nerves and the nerves of the group of golfers behind you than to take too much time because you can't keep the ball on the course.

One of the best things about golf is that it can tell you a lot of things about yourself and your partners. It's easy to mind your P's and Q's at a business luncheon or in an office setting, but in the heat of battle, when your focus is diffused and your guard is down and your competitive juices get flowing, then how do you behave? Add that to the fact that golf can be a very confounding game. It looks like it should be so easy, especially if you watch the professionals on television, but in reality, golf is probably the most frustrating activity that you can endeavor. For one thing, the pros that you see on TV probably hit between 500-1000 golf balls a day, everyday! And that's just practicing. No wonder they make it look so easy. The average businessman/golfer is lucky if they get to hit 500 golf balls in a year. So the most common golf/business etiquette faux paux is the display of excessive anger. Irregardless of your level of skill of play, you have to keep in mind that you are not a professional golfer, you are a professional businessman. Throwing clubs, cursing, yelling and other forms of excessive anger ruins it for everybody else in your group and sends a signal to that you cannot keep your cool under pressure. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are here to entertain your customer and make sure that he has a good time. After all, you're trying to build a relationship and don't need to come off as an ogre.

Golf is also a game of respect, courtesy, fairness and consideration, in addition to being a competitive forum. The rules of golf involve a lot of informal intricacies that can signal where you fall in the rating scale of all of these aforementioned qualities. For example, one of the common unwritten rules of golf is that once you are on the green getting ready to putt, you are not supposed to walk between the hole and the other balls on the green. The ideas is that because the greens are so soft, and putting is so critical to the game, walking on the putting "line" could possibly alter the path of the ball as it travels toward the hole. Even when you know the rules, this is a common mistake that you can make if you are solely focused on your own game. Observing this rule throughout the round tells your golf partners that you are not only focused on your self, but also considerate of others.

Golf is also a game of honor and trust because in most cases, you keep your own score. I say in most cases, because if you are an above average golfer, it's easy for everyone to keep up with your score because if your ball is always on the fairway, it's pretty easy for your partners to keep track of you. But if you're like most of us, you occasionally hit the ball in the rough, or out of everyone's sight. This gives you an opportunity to "shave" a stroke or two off of your score from time to time, since no one is watching. So if you happen to whiff one while you are in the rough, what difference does it make, right? Well, maybe. After all, it's only a game. But if you get in the habit of shaving a few strokes from time to time, eventually someone will notice and even though they might not say anything to you directly, you just told them a lot about how you might treat them in a business deal. I mean, if you will cheat when there is little or no money on the line, how can they trust you to treat them fairly on a business deal?

These are just a few examples of the way that golf that can provide you an opportunity to either bond with or repel your business clients and associates. There are so many things that golf can tell you about yourself and about your associates that they are too numerous to name here. But that is what makes golf such a valuable business tool. So if you haven't already done so, my advice is to take up the game, take enough lessons so that you don't slow things up, read the rules and more importantly, have fun. Now you only have to worry about whether or not it's more advantageous to beat your boss or your customers. Either way, golf is a great game and great way to do business, to network and to make it all fun. I gotta run, I have a tee-time in an hour.

Bingo Etiquette

Etiquettes make a person richer than anyone else. The previous statement is applicable in the bingo halls. What bingo etiquettes mean is the conduct you might always want to hold in any bingo hall no matter if it's in a live mode or online mode. This gives you an advantage over you fellow players as it shows you differently. The following bingo tips help you maintain a more appropriate etiquette while playing the game.

Pipe Down

Silence has its own virtue and hence you should always pipe down at the very moment the caller is about to start the game.

Watch out for lucky seats

Always make sure that you don't grab someone's luck seat and if you ever do so and you are requested to move you must make sure that you get along with the request.

Don't be a parrot

Some players have a habit of repeating the numbers as soon as the caller calls them. As they think they might be able to concentrate more with this practice but at the same time it might be very disturbing for the fellow players. Hence always try and avoid making any sort of extra noises.

Keep kids quiet

Many a time kids accompany elder ones in the bingo halls. People may offer you there understanding but only until the kids don't create a problem for them to concentrate. Hence bring with yourselves some games to keep the children busy even though sometimes the bingo halls themselves offer you some fun bingo cards for the kids.

Don't take out your frustrations on the caller

Never take out your frustrations, which may arise due to losing the game in a continuous stretch, on the caller. If there is a problem with the caller like he is going too fast or calling the numbers too softly, you may ask the caller to correct himself. For any other problem you contact the bingo manager.

Think before you call bingo

Never call a false bingo and check twice when you think you are done with the pattern. This might make other players disappointed with you.

Only smoke in the designated areas

Some people think that smoking helps them think better but one should keep in mind that there may be others who may not welcome this smoking act. Hence one should maintain his bingo etiquette and smoke only in the designated areas.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Simple Ways to Create an Accessible Business Space for People With Disabilities

Accessible Businesses and Why It Doesn't Make Sense Not to Be One

Did you know, according to the US census figures, that one in 5 people America has a disability? And that the number is expected to increase as the current population develops age-related disabilities?

Did you know that in America alone people with disabilities have $175 billion in discretionary income, according to the US Department of Labour?

Accessible businesses will be the ones getting those dollars.

You need to start thinking about your business and accessibility, because you can't afford not to get a piece of that pie!

Disabilities? Accessibility?

When business owners hear "disabilities" and "accessibility", they automatically start thinking about wheelchairs and costly renovations like ramps and elevators. You might want to consider making these things a part of your business space as you can afford them, as a space that's accessible for customers in wheelchairs is also accessible for customers who:

  • Use crutches, walkers or canes
  • Have a child in a stroller and/or a lot of small children with them
  • Have respiratory problems that make using stairs difficult

However, even without ramps and elevators, there are simple and inexpensive ways to make your business space more accessible for customers for physical disabilities, and for customers with other disabilities:

  • Visual impairments
  • Auditory impairments
  • Intellectual or learning disabilities
  • Mental conditions

5 Simple Ways to Increase Accessibility in Your Business Space

  1. Reduce clutter as much as possible Move display cases out of aisles and traffic areas. People with movement aids need room to navigate, and low clutter reduces the chance that people with visual impairments will trip or bump into things.

  2. Keep traffic areas safe for transit In areas where snow and ice are an issue, keep outdoor ramps and stairs free from snow and ice, or properly sanded/salted. Put mats down in indoor traffic areas that stay slippery because of rain or melted snow, making sure that the corners on the mats don't flip up easily if someone catches a toe on them (I have nearly fallen this way many, many times).

  3. Train floor staff to ask customers, "Can I help you with something?" People that can't read signs or are overwhelmed or need assistance getting something down from a shelf may be too embarrassed to say so. Having staff ask generically if they can help gives a person an opportunity to ask for help with a disability-related issue without having to be specific about what it is. Having cashiers ask "Did you find everything you were looking for today?" does the same thing.

  4. Provide plain-language signage where possible Large stores that are part of a chain may not have a choice in what signage they use. Where possible, however, all businesses should use signage that is easy-to-read, clearly visible (remembering that small fonts are difficult for some people to read and that being red-green colour-blind is considered a disability) and that uses clear, simple language.

  5. Provide a basic disability sensitivity training course for your staff Several basic disability sensitivity training courses are available online, and many areas have companies that will come in and do a course for your staff for a minimal cost. Disability sensitivity is important because many people make assumptions about how to interact with people with disabilities that are simply untrue. For example, speaking very loudly at a person with a hearing impairment is not going to make you any easier to hear. Disability sensitivity training provides a list of "do" and "do not" tips for interacting people with a wide variety of disabilities, explaining why these tips have become disability "etiquette."

All the above suggestions are relatively low-cost, but if implemented (especially all together) could make a world of difference to customers with disabilities. They are more likely to shop at a store that is making a demonstrated effort to become more accessible, and to recommend the store to other people with disabilities. Additionally, in this day and age, people with disabilities are becoming increasingly less patient with businesses that decide that becoming more accessible isn't worth the effort.

After all, money is money, whether it comes from a person with a disability or a person without one. And "I'm not interested my share of $175 billion dollars" is the statement that you make as a business when you decide that accessibility isn't worth the time or money.

What small step from the ones above could you make happen this week?

Email Etiquette For Teens and Twenty-Somethings

Your generation has grown up knowing how to use computers. Email and text messages are the most common form of communication for you and likely most of your peers. Written electronic correspondence is convenient, unobtrusive, and so frequently used that the overarching tone of most messages is quite informal and conversational. This is fine if you are communicating with friends, but as you enter the professional world, there will be different expectations of formality that you would do well to apply to your email correspondence. Read on for more advice on email etiquette for young professionals.

- Be punctual. The best way to show a person that you respect their time is to answer their messages promptly. All of your friends deserve the courtesy of having their messages answered quickly, and business contacts, by nature, demand it.

- Address all of the questions asked in your reply. Be sure that your response is thorough and relevant.

- Check your spelling and grammar. Most email programs have a spell checker, so this should be a no-brainer. Grammar can be a bit trickier. Consult an online grammar guide if you have questions about when to use things like "their" and "they're" or "to" and "too".

- Use proper punctuation. I tend to get carried away when typing emails to my close friends, adding extra exclamation marks and throwing in phrases in ALL CAPS to get my point across. If you are emailing a close friend, over-punctuate to your heart's content, but if you are trying to make a good impression on a potential employer or just someone you haven't met before, stick to the proper punctuation and capitalization.

- Don't create or forward chain letters. I remember when I got my first email account in middle school, half of the emails I received were from friends who forwarded emails telling me that if I sent the message on to twenty people my crush would finally ask me out and if I didn't, I'd have bad luck for a year. I don't know if we grew out of those or if they fell out of fashion, but I'm glad I don't get them anymore. Don't irritate your friends with chain mail.

- Be careful about using "reply to all", Bcc and Cc. Only use "reply to all" if you are sure that everyone on the recipient list needs to hear what you have to say. Bcc (blind carbon copy) should be used when you have a group that needs to hear the same message, but the recipients may not know each other and might not be comfortable sharing their email information with a list of random people. Cc (carbon copy) is best employed when you are emailing a group that needs to hear the same message and they are all familiar with each other, that way they know who else is aware of the information in your email.

- Don't over-style your emails - emoticons, unicorn pictures, purple twinkle fonts, and animation are tolerable in messages between twelve year old girls, but they are extremely unprofessional and sometimes hard to read. Keep your messages clean and simple unless, of course, you are a twelve year old girl - or would like to be compared to one.

- Make your email subjects relevant. Good titles help recipients keep messages organized and will help you keep your messages from being filtered out by spam blockers. If you don't know the person to whom you are writing, be especially careful in titling your email, as it can determine whether or not your email is even opened.

- Address people you don't know by their titles and surnames until they imply that you can call them something else. Most people are okay with being called by their first names, but until they invite you to do so, stick to "Mr.", "Ms.", and "Dr." to avoid offending.

- Make sure your attachments are relevant to your message. If you need to send a large attachment, ask the recipient for permission before you send it. Large attachments can clog inboxes and frequently get filtered by spam blockers. If your recipient knows to look for it, they can make the necessary preparations to make sure that it is properly received.

- Make sure your email address is professional. Sending messages from "surferdood95" or "ilovelamp" is fine if you are writing to a friend, but potential employers will probably not be impressed with your creativity in this regard. Luckily, if you already have an established account with a silly name, you can usually add email addresses to the same account; just make sure you select the appropriate return address for each email you send. Professional email addresses should be simple variations of your name like "jonsmith" or "jsmith" or "jon.smith". You can add numbers if you need them to differentiate, but keep it as simple as possible.

- Don't send forwards without a personal message describing why you are passing it on. Sending forwards, even to people who you know will be interested, without a word or two from you is impersonal and a bit rude. Adding a sentence or two telling them what is in it and why you sent it will also make them want to read it before they delete it.

- It's not totally necessary, but you will avoid some potentially embarrassing emails if you fill in your "to" line when you are completely finished with your email. It's not uncommon for people to accidentally hit the "send" button before they are finished with their message and end up having to send a second email explaining their mistake.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Essential Guide to Start a Professional Home Based Business

One of the hardest obstacles we encounter when we perform our home base business is making it seem that we are not working in the business from home. Specifically, when customers call and in same room your kids are screaming aloud in the background, pets barking or timers going off for cooking and laundry, it does not look really professional in business. So how can we perform our home base business in a professional way?

Tip # 1 : Arrange etiquette rules in your family about your home based businesses.

It is important to separate time between your business and your family as well as to allocate time for both wisely. They are important and cannot be mixed up. When you are in your office doing home based businesses, then your kids should not be there especially during meeting with clients. Limit some spaces or areas for which can be entered during office hours and, which cannot.

Tip # 2: Setup a professional website with a purchased domain name.

It is a bad idea to have a free website that is hosted on other domain names with many advertisements everywhere from other companies that are filling out most of the spaces on the page. I suggest you to take money from your pocket right away to set up a professional website in order to look more professional. And believe me this will not spend a lot of money. Buy a domain name that is closely related to your business name and pay someone to create a website or have a trade with other business owners who specialized in web design if you are not specialized on creating a website.

Tip # 3: Create several numbers for one phone line with a distinguishing ring tone for each number.

You can have three or more numbers ringing to one phone line with of course classifiable rings. In order to avoid after-hours phone calls from customers, it is usually better to set up a separate phone line in your office. When you are not in the work, you can use a professional voice mail message and check it when you get back to the office.

Tip # 4: Display your business address smartly

There are two ways of displaying your business address if you do not want your clients assume that you work from home. They can be PO BOX or attaching a suite number to your address. You can have your home address shown anonymously through PO BOX, but you will not have the chance to have clients or visitors visiting your office. On the other side, if you are using a suite number as your business address, you must remind your postal carrier that you are running businesses home based so there will be no confusion to have a different address on there.

Tip # 5 : Pay for professional promotional media and marketing products

You would not want your business card printed from your own printer, especially if your printer is just a standard printer. The result must be not that good in quality. Therefore, it is essential to print out a business card as well as your other promotional products like brochures or even your business proposals with top of the line printer from a professional printing supplier.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Twitter for Business - Twitter 101 for Small Business

Twitter Now Worth $4 Billion

Twitter's market value has reached 4 billion, according to SharesPost, a secondary market for buying and selling stock in privately held companies. Many business owners are wondering if they should tweet or not tweet. That is the question on a lot of small business owners minds.

Some entrepreneurs using Twitter for business have discovered that it is a powerful way to engage customers and build a community. For others, tweeting sucks up a lot of time and has not increased revenues. The fact is, most small business owners do not know how to utilize Twitter to grow revenues, engage clients, and grow their brand. Many entrepreneurs simply produce and promote spam, while others are online and engage too much. How do you find the balance?

Twitter Is a Social Tool

Think of Twitter as a place to 'chat' about business - It is a social tool. Twitter is a powerful tool to market and really engage with fans and customers. You can respond in real-time to your customers. However, if you don't answer questions people have and respond, it's a complete turn off.

That is why it is called a 'social media' tool and the key word to remember is 'social.' It is important to be social, share things going on in your life and at your company and see what people respond to and how they interact with your living, breathing, brand online.

Twitter followers respond to real live pictures of you not a stock logo. Twitter followers really want to know more about you and your company. They don't really want to hear your marketing pitch of how to make money, how to get six-pack abs, or how to win an iPad over and over.

Twitter allows you to direct message people who follow you and this is a great way to get people to do something that you want them to do such as go to your website, LIKE you on Facebook, or sign up for your ezine.

Be Authentic - Become An Expert

Try to use Twitter to establish yourself as an expert in your industry, be authentic, and deliver relevant valuable content that people are craving. Post tips, guidance, advice, and share content that will help your potential customers. Remember that people go online to solve a problem or find an answer and follow people who are opinion leaders. Strive for a balance of great content and some self promotion. Use this powerful tool to push out good information that people are seeking online. The rule is that 20-30% of your Tweets should be commercial

Twitter Etiquette

Twitter etiquette? Yes, there is proper etiquette and no Emily Post didn't write it but if she revised her book it would be listed right along with sending thank-you notes. Be relevant, listen, mind your brand, engage, give more than you get, and follow back.

Use the above tips to get started on Twitter for your small business, and you should soon be on your way to increased 'followers', and ultimately increased sales for your small business!

Bill Paying and Tipping Etiquette

It would be very nice if eating out were free. In reality, someone must pay for the dinner as well as the tip to the servers. Paying the bill and leaving the right tip are very often an area of concern or confusion. This should never turn what was a delightful dinner into a quagmire or uncomfortable scene.

In general, if you are invited by someone out to dinner, that person intends to pay the bill. The tides begin to turn, though, when groups of people decide to dine out together. In this case, the rule is that each person, or couple, is responsible for their portion of the bill and tip. The expression traditionally used is "Going Dutch". It sometimes gets a little tricky- especially when each person's math skills may be a little shaky. Sometimes a person will add up what they had using the prices on the menu- but fail to consider the sales tax. Without a calculator, it is difficult to figure your portion of the sales tax. You most definitely do not want to come across as selfish or stingy. For instance, if your portion of the bill is $20 in menu items, and the tax is 6%, you should round up to the nearest dollar for the tax. If anything, that portion over the true amount would wind up as more for the tip to the server- and unless the service was poor- that is never a bad thing. If you cannot afford the extra cents, then you should not be going out to dinner in the first place.

Sometimes, someone will grab the check and offer to pay. Unless that person has invited you to dinner, never assume he or she is paying for dinner. Instead, each person or couple should politely ask to see the bill so that they may pay what they owe. If the person who grabs the bill says he or she is "taking care of it", there is always some sort of friendly bickering about that- because no one wants to seem unappreciative. It is also their way of showing humility. However, if the person insists, again, that they wish to pay the bill, do not go back-and-forth in an argument. Be gracious, polite and express your appreciation. You may wish to say that the next dinner is on you. In this case, this process goes smoothly, no one is insulted and the evening can end on a very pleasant note. Keep in mind, though, that if you say the next dinner is your treat- you MUST pay the bill the next time you dine with this person or people.

Leaving the right tip is another area which can cause confusion. This is because there is a great deal of flexibility involved in tipping. Some restaurants include the tip in the bill. If this is the case, it is stated on the menu. Be sure to take note of this so as to avoid double tipping. You are free at your discretion, though, to add to the tip if you feel inclined to do so. The traditional amount to tip is 15% of the bill before the tax. That is the minimum you should expect to pay if the service was appropriate. More and more people today tip at the rate of 20% of the bill before the tax. Some choose to include the tax when calculating the tip. Some, again, choose to tip a greater amount for extraordinary service or because they are very generous. In any case, be sure that you tip at least the minimum for good service.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Twitter Tips, Tricks and Etiquette

Twitter is a website which offers social media networking and microblogging. Twitter users send out "tweets" which is basically a 140 character response to "what are you doing?" Tweeters can also attach pictures and videos to their tweets, making them much more personal. According to Computerworld, as of July 2010, there were 75 million twitter users with a growth rate of 7.8 million new users per month.

Twitter Etiquette

There is some etiquette associated with the twitter microblogging platform.

  • Whenever you acquire a new follower, it is customary to follow them back.
  • It is also customary to send them a direct message thanking them for following you. One of the biggest "twitter taboos" is to send your new follower a direct message with an affiliate link or a link to your website. If they are interested in you, trust me, they with click on your website in your profile to find out more about you. Adding a link to your thank you DM is like shoving your information down their throat...and may be considered Spam.
  • If a fellow tweeter retweets your tweet, it is respectful to send them a simple thank you. A little courtesy goes a long way, and to tweeters, it is very much appreciated.

Twitter Tips

Twitter is a relationship building and marketing tool just like Face book is. It's not a platform to Spam folks with your business opportunity, but rather a place to provide value to folks who may be interested in what you have to offer. It all comes down to attraction marketing. Provide value to people...and in turn, if folks are interested in what you have to offer...they will seek you out. It works.

Twitter Tricks

There are many applications out there that can make your twitter experience more effective. I'll list some of the most common used twitter applications available:

Tweetdeck: TweetDeck is an Adobe AIR desktop Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz and MySpace application. Like other Twitter applications it interfaces with the Twitter API to allow users to send and receive tweets and view profiles from one application. You can also make lists and view DM'S @ responses, favorite tweeter lists or groups all from one application.

Socialoomph: Socialoomph is a free application (there is also a paid service), that allows you to send your welcome DM on autopilot. I don't know about you, but I am continuously inundated with e-mails everyday saying "such and such is now following you on twitter." To cut down on the "thanks for following me e-mails," I use Socialoomph to send it for me. You can also set it to automatically follow any new followers..."easy peasy." You can also schedule updates from your blog through socialoomph, so your tweets can go out when you are too busy to send them yourself.

Untweeps: Untweeps is an application that allows you to unfollow "stale followers." These are the folks who don't tweet enough. It will list your followers who haven't tweeted in the last 30 days and then you can unfollow them...who wants to follow a tweeter who doesn't tweet? Not me.

Twitpic & YFrog: These two applications allow you to upload pics, whether it be from your mobile phone or PC, and attach them to your tweets.

In a nutshell, Twitter is a wonderful relationship building and marketing tool. If used effectively, you will develop new friendships, learn many new things from the folks who provide value to you, and essentially build your business through the biggest "cocktail party" on the Internet.

To Your Tweeting Success, Anne Theriault

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Business Spanish Online - Learn Spanish For Business Success

People need to communicate in business to succeed. The better communication, the more likely it is that the contact will be signed, the account secured, or the partnership sealed.

Through increased technology, we have become a global business society, and we know that we need language intelligence to move forward, and one language that is growing rapidly in the business community is Spanish. More people are doing business in Spanish than ever before, and more business people are learning Spanish because of it.

There are several excellent online sites that will help you to learn business Spanish. Often, the online programs have business language sections available, but it is increasingly common to find entire websites devoted only to this topic.

One of the best sites is simply called Business Spanish. It is filled with every category of Spanish that is used in business, and you can access all sort of online resources for learning quickly. Some of the pages include topics such as business vocabulary, grammar with a focus on banking topics, 24-hour business news worldwide, convenient online translators, and necessary etiquette for Spanish countries.
The site offers free daily 10-minute tutorials.

Another good site is 123 Teach Me. It offers free lessons combining basic Spanish grammar with business vocabulary. There are three levels of study, including Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced, and each level has three lesson levels.

The site has a forum with a community of language learners that meet to ask questions, and discuss all sorts of topics. There is also an automatic word translator available.

Visual Link Spanish also offers online lessons. The company will tailor training for businesses that wish to use the system for training its employees. It is possible to receive quantity discounts for purchasing multiple courses, or the company can build custom Spanish courses for a specific business or industry.

There are as many ways to learn online as there are good reasons to learn Spanish. Most companies find that not only are their workplaces increasingly diversified, but that their business prospects are increasingly flowing from the Hispanic population in many areas. Actually, in many local areas, the desire to learn Spanish has become a necessity.

Regardless of the business or industry, having these second language speaking skills is a highly desired ability. Wise business people everywhere are learning Spanish, and discovering that learning it online is the best way to do it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Office Phone Etiquette

Today, with text messaging, email, social networks, and IM, most of us could go days or weeks without ever picking up and phone and still be in constant contact with friends and family. Some people are even actually scared of making phone calls or picking up the phone as a result. If the phone makes you nervous, then I'm sorry to say you probably need to learn to get over it. The music business is one of relationships, and that means a lot of emails, a lot of meetings, and a lot of phone calls. Here are some tips on how to make it easier.

Make Sure You Know How to Use It
Try to learn how to use the phones at your office as quickly as possible and get comfortable with it. You don't want to accidentally hang up on someone when you're trying to answer a call or, even worse, accidentally transfer an obnoxious guy calling to tell you that he's the next big thing, when you're trying to put him on hold. Actually knowing how to use the phone system will make you feel less nervous and it's generally pretty essential anyway.

Answer It
Sounds obvious right? As a general rule, you should never let a phone just keep ringing (if you have the authority to answer it that is). Learn what lines you should cover and be sure to get any call that comes through or that your boss can't get (if you're supposed to act as back up for his or her line).

Take Notes
Whether you're just transferring the call immediately or actually taking a message, you should take a few notes anyway just to keep a record of who you talked to and what it was about. Then, if your boss can't remember and asks you who she was supposed to call back, you'll actually know. Every time you talk to someone you should get their name, where they are calling from, and what the call is regarding. If you're taking a message you should also be sure the person the message is for has their contact info.

Learn Your Office Etiquette
Every office has different rules and different levels of formality for incoming phone calls. Learn yours and follow them. This may mean not leaving the desk if someone else isn't there to cover the phone, it may mean automatically telling certain people that your boss is in a meeting, and it may mean using a certain method to communicate messages and who is on the phone. Whatever it may be, make sure you know it and adhere to it.

Forum Etiquette - The Right Way to Use Forums

There are literally hundreds of online forums these days and they can be extremely useful for anybody who runs an Internet business, providing you with the opportunity to make your name in your particular field and to attract visitors to your website. However, there are a few rules which are common to all forums and which you must follow if your are to succeed.

1. Do keep to the topic of the forum. Forums are designed as a meeting ground for like minded people and will normally cover a single topic or perhaps a small group of related topics. There is nothing which will upset members faster than posting content which is off topic.

2. Do include all of the necessary information in your posts. Whether you are asking or answering a question make things easy for forum members but including all of the necessary information in your posts. There is nothing worse that incomplete posts which then get dragged out by members having to ask for further details or for clarification.

3. Do be nice. It is a simple fact of life that forums attract people whose sole purpose in life seems to be to try to upset as many people as they can as quickly as they can. Do not react to such people when they enter into a discussion with you and deliberately try to provoke a reaction from you. No matter what comments are thrown at you be nice and polite to everybody and, if necessary, simply ignore rude posters rather than getting drawn into an argument with them.

4. Do not quote previous messages. Most forums use software which allows you to quote previous messages when adding a post to a thread but you should not do so unless it is absolutely necessary to make your point. People are perfectly capable of following a thread and adding in quotes simply makes the thread unnecessarily long and cluttered.

5. Do not spam a forum. If you are going to participate in a forum then your objective should be to gain recognition and establish yourself as an expert in your field by bringing real value to the forum. It should not be to simply advertise your product or service. It is generally possible to advertise your product or service through your forum signature block and you can also promote your product or service through your posts as long as you do so subtly and only where it is appropriate to do so.

Participating in forums can be a very good way to make contact with your target audience and find out exactly what your customers are looking for. However, it is vitally important that you follow the rules of a forum and make a genuine contribution to the discussion if you are to get a good return on your investment as a forum participant.

Car Etiquette - Tips on Seating a Woman and Couples in a Passenger Car

Etiquette rules regarding seating in a car on social occasions are different from seating in business situation. The social rules for car travel are especially important when a man is opening the door for a woman and when couples are seated in a car. Savvy individuals who wish to climb the ladder of success know the rules and carefully adhere to them.

In social situations, good manners require a well-bred man to assist a lady into the car from the curb side before walking around the car to let himself in. Ladies, everyone knows you can open your own doors, but some of you are missing the point. Before 5:00 p.m., you can be a lioness in the office. After 5:00 p.m., however, you might do well to lighten up, turn yourself into a kitty cat, and stop robbing your man of his manhood. Men, don't be clueless! Being attentive is a subtlety not lost on a classy woman. Even a simple gesture such as opening the car door for her sends a message that you believe she is worth being treated like a princess and you are proud to be seen with her. If you must, fake it until it becomes part of you.

How couples seat themselves when traveling together is an indication of their social class. When two men and two women of the working class are traveling together, the two men sit in the front seats of the car, and the women take the back seats. In the middle class, one couple sits up front, and the other couple sits in the back. Upper- class people choose a different arrangement. The woman of one couple sits up front with the male driver of the other couple, while her companion sits with the driver's female partner in the back seat. The man in the back seat defers to the woman by giving her the seat of honor -- passenger side rear. The assumption of this seating arrangement is that a couple spends a good deal of time talking with one another. A mixed seating arrangement encourages cross-conversation, thus fulfilling the purpose of being with others -- to exchange scintillating conversation, news, and ideas with everyone.

Does all this sound a bit pretentious? Perhaps, but if you are interested in joining the social club, you need to adapt your manner and your thinking to the rules of acceptable behavior regarding car manners as in all areas of etiquette.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Customer Service Etiquette - Top 5 Things You Shouldn't Say to Customers

1) You're hot, want to party? Please don't go there! It's a place of business, not a meat market.

2) Any sentence starting with "You should have..." This is usually the start of a long monologue in which the customer service representative explains why the customer is the cause of the problem at hand. For example, let's say that Joe ordered an item from your catalog. He entered the item number correctly and did not enter a description for the item. The pickers misread the item number (Joe doesn't have the best handwriting!) and shipped the wrong product. It's not helpful to tell Joe that he should have entered a description or written more neatly. Joe doesn't really want an explanation of what happened, he wants to have the product he ordered.

What's a better way to handle this? Be cheerful and friendly about exchanging the product and making sure Joe is satisfied. Once Joe is happy, you can easily suggest that it would help you avoid these errors in the future if he could also complete the description on the order form so there would be a way to double check his order. Now, you are requesting Joe's help in providing better service and he is much more likely to comply and not to be offended. When you start off by saying "You should have..." you are putting the blame on Joe instead of helping him solve the problem.

3) "I don't know!" I once asked a sales clerk in a large discount chain store if they sold swim goggles. That's the response I got. Then the employee walked off and left me standing there. I left the store and made my purchase somewhere else. Do you really want to leave the customer thinking that you must not be too bright if you can't answer questions about your own business and on top of that leave the impression that you don't much care if they find what they're looking for?

4) "We don't carry that here." That may be true, but let's provide a bit better service. Here are some options: Suggest an alternative product that might work just as well or better, offer to special order the product, or refer the customer to a store that does carry the item. Be remembered for excellent service and the customer is more likely to keep checking with you first to meet their needs.

5) "No problem." This goes without saying. No customer ever thinks of themselves as a problem. Try "It's my pleasure" or "I'm happy to help" instead.

9 Proper Conference Call Etiquette For A Better Conference Calling Experience

When you have a conference call rather it is from business to business, or business to an employee at home or abroad conducting business, it is important that the conference calling experience is productive and smooth sailing. No matter what role you play in the conference call, it is necessary that you maintain the proper etiquette for conference calls.

Before we get into the conference call etiquette, let us look at some of the things that could go wrong as a result of a bad conference call. You might not believe it, but there are many.

Here are some repercussions of a conference call gone bad:

Morale - If the proper etiquette is not followed, it might create some bad feelings between workers. You might find that it is harder to work with these employees as a result. Many people expect that their conference call will run with complete smoothness, no interruptions, and productivity, otherwise it is a complete waste of their time and yours.

Missed Deadlines - If there are constant interruptions or the conference call runs in a disorganized manner, things might be misunderstood. This could mean that an important deadline is missed because things were not correctly understood.

Misunderstandings - While this goes along with the missed deadlines, so many negative outcomes could arise from a misunderstanding. If for any reason, those on your conference call do not completely understand what you are telling them, it could result in not only missed deadlines, but a loss of customers, loss of revenue, loss of employees, or loss of business all the way around.

Getting it right the first time

Now that you know a few of the many problems that could arise from a conference call gone bad, it is time to take a look at the proper conference call etiquette. Every person on the conference call should practice these things. However, you cannot control the things that other people do or do not do; therefore, the only thing you can do is focus on yourself and your own etiquette and hope that everyone follows suit.

1. Quiet is the key - Make sure, when you are on the conference call that you are in a very quiet room, away from any disturbances. This will make sure that you hear everything that is going on and keep the misunderstandings to a minimum. It is impossible to keep the misunderstandings at bay if you have a dog barking, machines running, or people talking in the background.

2. The Telephone Equipment - Make sure that you are using a phone that will minimize the noise in the background. Some telephone and most all cell phones will pick up even the slightest noise or interference, which will not only cause troubles for you hearing the speakers, but others as well.

3. Using Telephone Technology - The mute button does wonders, but make sure you know how to use it. The mute button should be used if there is a lot of background noise that you simply cannot control or if someone is particularly talkative. Of course, make sure you know how to un-mute for when it is your turn to speak or answer a question.

4. Time - Make sure you set the conference call up in advance and let everyone know all information such as pass code or phone number. It is also necessary that you take time zones in to consideration if you have people across several time zones to include on the conference call.

5. Being on Time - If you are the conference call leader, you want to start right on time. Do not wait for others if they are late. People on the call want to start right away, because there may be other business they need to attend to. If you are simply in the call, be on time, you do not want to miss anything that might be important.

6. Introductions - Make sure that every person on the call introduces himself or herself. This will allow for building relationships and getting people to open up and feel comfortable.

7. Clarification - Not everyone will be able to tell who is who by the voice. Make sure before anyone speaks that his or her name is said first. For example, "this is Bob, could you repeat that company name again".

8. Eating - Never eat while you are on a conference call, who wants to hear chewing in their ear? If you must get a drink of water, put the call on mute so no one will have to hear the emitted sounds. This includes chewing gum.

9. Keep on Topic - Do not fill the call with unnecessary talk. Keep to the point, because remember there may be several people on the call that have other pressing things to do.

With the above proper conference call etiquette rules, you will find that the conference calls runs in a much more smooth and efficient manner. Keeping the proper etiquette in mind while on the conference call will make the entire call that much more productive for everyone.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Italian Etiquette: Ways to Handle Business in Italy

Italy is a place of alpine forests and magnificent mountains. It is a beautiful country in Southern Europe and boasts a variety of enchanting environment and culture.

If you are about to travel and engage business in Italy, you need to learn few Italian business etiquettes that will make you belong in their community and help you become a trustworthy person to work with. To have a successful business visit in Italy, there are things that you need to keep in mind:

  • People in Italy are generally warm and friendly. They speak Italian although most business people can speak English. Most of them love to hear foreigners speaking their own language so better learn a few Italian words before your visit.

  • Italians are fond of greeting each other through handshake and smile. For a formal introduction, you can give them your calling card so they can call you by name. They usually call you by your first name.

  • Always establish a good business rapport and do not rush into negotiations or discussions. If you want to converse casually, you can talk about fashion, food, their place or football.

  • Food and hospitality is a major part in doing business in Italy. Lunch is usually served in the late afternoon and dinner starts about 8:00 to 9:00pm. They have continental style of table arrangement.

  • Fashion plays an important role in doing business in Italy. Italians can judge you by the way you dress. Wear decent business attire when meeting with them: men in decent short sleeves and women in dress with jewelry.

  • You will notice that little personal space is made between two people interacting. For Italians, this is a sign of warmth and friendliness. On the other hand, keeping your distance or moving away may be interpreted as unfriendly and cold.

  • Italians are generally relaxed when it comes to time. There is no negative effect when you come late for a reason. But if you come late for a deliberate reason, it could be interpreted as rude. Always try to be punctual in business meetings to make a good impression.

  • Always remember to do business in Italy with someone you know. If you want to contact people you do not know or who do not know you, try to introduce yourself through some friends or contacts that are living in Italy.

Whether you are an expat, a visiting foreigner or a returning businessman, you need to keep the above tips in handling business in Italy. It will help you make a positive impression and help you build a good connection with them.

Good Manners in Business

Business etiquette never goes out of fashion. It is not a strategy but a fundamental rule on which your business should be based. Good manners reflect your upbringing and character. As in the other walks of life good manners are essential for any business. Your rudeness could prevent you from clinching that order you desperately want. Good manners include your grooming, politeness and the way you conduct yourself. Your cultivation of good manners will make you to approach people with greater confidence.
As you would never know when you would meet a potential client, be prepared always. Neatly combed hair, good tidy dress and a good pair of shoes are a must. Unkempt hair and dirty shoes signify carelessness. Good manners, civility and politeness are an integral part of any business. Most people are prepared to take their business elsewhere if they are treated badly.
You should always create a good first impression on the person you are meeting. As it is said first impression is the best impression. The tone of your voice, grooming and your behavior should attract the customer. Always know the name of the person you are meeting and use it several times in your conversation. This shows you are paying close attention to the other person.
You should always exhibit a pleasant, positive attitude towards your employees. You should encourage and appreciate the good work done by your employees. Any discouraging and sarcastic remark towards the employee or customer should be avoided. The employees must be made to feel that they are valued by the company. As and when any conflict arises, be at hand to resolve them in a fair manner. No favoritism should be shown towards anyone. Your attitude should be such that it has to earn respect from everyone. Your employees should be encouraged to air their ideas, opinions and suggestions.

Proper Gym Etiquette

Going to gym has become party of modern lifestyle. It is a way to get much-needed exercise after a whole day of sitting at work. So if you've been going to gym for some time now, you probably have a routine and some useful techniques. But your gym subscription carries more responsibility than just paying your dues every month. That's right; there are etiquette you need to observe to make the experience pleasant for everyone at the gym. Let's examine the important gym etiquette you should follow below:

Handling the Equipment

While you can exercise at home, most people prefer to go to gym. They want to take advantage of sophisticated equipment that will tone different parts of their body. Are you making use of these equipments properly?

• Don't hog the equipment - sharing is mandatory in a gym. Don't sit on certain machines for extended lengths of time if there are people waiting to take their turn. Just do your set, rest, repeat, and move on.

• Wipe the machine - you certainly won't like it if the gym machines are all covered with sweat from other people. You can be sure that others will be unhappy if you leave the equipment all sweaty as well! So wipe it with a disinfectant and towel provided by the gym after you're finished.

• Return the weights - whenever you use plates or dumbbells, put them back where they belong after usage. It would be very inconsiderate if other gym members have to waste their time in a scavenger hunt.

• Limit yourself - if the gym is busy, members are expected to spend 20 to 30 minutes on cardiovascular equipments. Try to keep within this limit so others can benefit from the equipment. If applicable, you need to register your name on the reservation list.

Proper Behavior

Aside from the proper use of equipment, gym members should also remember to observe good behavior. Like the workplace, classroom, or any public space, it is important to remember that people around you will be affected, even offended, by what you do or what you say.

• Don't pressure other members - if they are obviously using the equipment, stop asking if they're finished or when they will be finished. Wait for them to finish their set before talking.

• Minimize grunting - it is natural to emit some grunts when you're doing strenuous exercises but remember to keep it on a minimum. No one likes a guy who grunts for attention.

• Avoid offering advice - unless others ask for it, that is. You might have physical training experience but that hardly matter if no one wants it. Limit your advice for people who will obviously hurt themselves.

• Don't hit on girls - there may be a lot of hot girls around but they are at the gym to get fit, not to flirt. They can do that on any bar.

• Smell Good - perspiration causes body odor. If you've been going to gym for some time already, you most likely encountered a person who just stinks. Don't be the guy who "smells" at gym. Use deodorant.

As you can see, gym etiquette is pretty straightforward. It mostly involves minding your own business and being considerate of other members.

Telephone Etiquette Tips For Professionals

Every time that your business telephone rings, there is an opportunity to build or damage a customer relationship. When an existing or prospective customer calls your company, the way that you address him or her plays a major role in whether or not the outcome of the conversation will be positive or negative.

No matter who answers the telephone in your business, that person's words and actions form the basis of your company's image among people who call your company. Regardless of the type of business you have, it's important that you and every member of your team observe these basic telephone etiquette tips for professionals at all times.

1. Use The Equipment Properly
Don't let new employees work the phones without first training with you or other experienced employees. Even if you've hired someone with years of multi-line telephone experience, you need to spend some time making sure that your new hire knows the ins and outs of how your system works. If not, you may end up with agitated customers and lost business from calls that get cut off accidentally, or that get transferred to the wrong extensions.

It's important to keep in mind that new employees aren't the only ones who can benefit from training on how to use the telephone equipment. It's not uncommon for employees who work in a company for years to have very little practical knowledge of using any functions on the company telephones beyond simply taking calls. At a minimum, all employees should know the proper procedures for placing callers on hold and transferring calls to other extensions.

2. Answer Promptly
If the telephone rings so long that the customer on the other end wonders if he or she has dialed the wrong number, you are not practicing proper telephone etiquette. As a general rule of thumb, a business telephone should be answered by the fourth ring, preferably sooner.

3. Greet Callers Professionally
Answering the telephone in a professional environment is very different from answering personal calls. If your employees seem to have trouble greeting customers promptly, give them a script to use when answering calls. This can eliminate the possibility of inappropriate greetings, and can ensure uniformity in how your company's calls are handled initially.

4. Keep a Smile on Your Face
Your voice changes based on the expression on your face. It's a fact that the human voice takes on a pleasant quality when the person speaking is smiling. Encourage your employees to smile when they greet customers on the telephone, and do the same thing yourself.

Telephone Etiquette Matters
Following these simple telephone etiquette tips can have a positive impact on how customers see your organization. No company has ever lost business as a direct result of proper telephone usage and etiquette. However, any company who has had problems getting employees to greet customers promptly and properly has likely missed out on what could have been excellent business development opportunities.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cubicle Etiquette Opens Doors

Building and maintaining strong business relationships is the key to success. While keys are designed to unlock doors, in the modern workplace, doors are about as scarce as good manners. It is estimated that over 40 million North Americans work in open environments. That is, of course, a nice way of saying cubicles. And while, cubicles may not have doors, they can act as barriers to strong working relationships.

Corporations have embraced cubicles because saving space saves money. And in these times of constant restructuring, it is also useful to have workspaces that are easy, fast and relatively inexpensive to reconfigure. This also comes in handy when projects and teams are fluid. Another touted benefit of cubicles is the ease of collaboration between colleagues, but where there is ease of collaboration it is also easy to have confrontation and complaints.

This anger and grumbling is primarily a result of the more frequent interruptions and lack of privacy that go with the open territory. Interruptions are not only caused by a co-worker speaking directly to you, they can also be a result of visual or auditory distractions. Even a noxious smell, such as burnt popcorn wafting from your neighbors' cubicle can cause you to look up and even grab a handful.

Interruptions, aside from being an annoyance, also reduce productivity. A study conducted by Basex determined that office distractions take up 2.1 hours of the average day - 28% - with workers taking an average of five minutes to recover from each interruption and return to their original tasks

When workers are out in the open, their personal habits and relationships are on display as well. This lack of privacy can feel invasive and offensive. It's true that the close quarters of office cubicles in companies are a breeding ground for hot tempers, resentments and damaged relations. It's also true that most of our complaints about our co-workers are valid and should not be ignored. The challenge is to devise and employ strategies to create goodwill in the office so that minor annoyances do not explode into a toxic work environment that no one will benefit from.

While it may seem obvious that extending cubicle courtesies will go a long way to create goodwill in the office, little is written about it. A quick Google search yielded 247,000 results for "cubicle anger" 180,000 results for "cubicle complaints" and a mere 894 results for "cubicle courtesies".

Let's face it, we cube dwellers are all in this together. Follow these fundamental cubicle courtesies and your work environment will be much more enjoyable and productive for everyone. Lead by example and thoughtfully and sensitively speak up when others are discourteous to you.

Spark the Quiet Riot

Mute your volume, and reduce your number of sound-activated keystrokes or messages ("You've got mail", etc) to avoid bothering those around you. Avoid using the speakerphone function of your telephone. Instead, use the handset or a headset. Try not to pop your gum, slurp your coffee or make loud exclamations or noises that show displeasure over a task or interaction. If you have a condition that causes you to make noises that might be annoying to others (coughs, nose blowing, etc.) consider making frequent trips to the restroom to avoid distracting or grossing out your associates. Do not shout over cubicles. Keep your voice down when speaking to others in the office or by telephone. People do work better when it's quiet.

Odor Beaters

We become immune to our own smells. It's possible that your perfume is too strong or your body has built up a resistance to your favorite deodorant. Every once in a while, ask someone you trust for their feedback and offer to do the same for them. Nothing is worse than being secretly known as the "stink bomb". Do not polish your nails or use nail polish remover at your desk. If you have food in your cubicle, keep it sealed and if there is a lunchroom available, use it rather than eating at your desk. The curry doesn't smell so good second time round and no one is impressed by someone working through their lunch and leaving grease marks on file folders and crumbs at their desk.

Eye Candy

Free expression is a need best met at home. Consider the image you wish to project before decorating your cubicle. What does a stuffed animal collection or Star Trek memorabilia say about a person? Take down out of date greeting cards. Keep your medications and vitamins out of sight. Do not display anything that may be perceived as offensive or degrading to any individual or group. This includes religious or political material. Don't take silly chances, it's not worth it.

Respect Their Space

A person's workstation becomes an extension of themselves and it's natural to feel territorial. Respect a person's space and do not lean their dividers or sit on their desk when conversing or waiting for others. If you have to use someone's workstation, leave everything exactly as you found it and do not take anything with you.

Privacy "Shmivacy"

Avoid lengthy personal calls in your cubicle of any kind, including calls to or from your children, squabbles with your spouse, calls to your bank, etc. Most offices have dedicated meeting rooms for such purposes or you can take your cell phone to a more private place. If you are collaborating or having a discussion with your colleagues, ensure that no one in the vicinity is being disturbed or hearing confidential matters. Be prepared to take your meeting elsewhere. Even though you may innocently overhear things from your neighbors, assume that anything that is not said directly to you is none of your business. You may even mention to the loud talker that they may not want you to know them THAT well! Keep it light, but get the message across.

Open environments and cubicles are here to stay. Ensure that your business relationships enjoy that same longevity by employing strategies of cubicle courtesies that will open the door to a more productive and enjoyable workplace.

Handshake Etiquette

A good handshake can make or break your first impression. A proper handshake is inevitable for having a great personality. In order to grow into a successful individual, one needs to focus on manners and etiquette. Here are a list of things that will ensure that will help your personality development and help you make a great impression with your handshake.

1. Stand when you shake your hands: This may seem simple and obvious, but there are people who mess this up by offering a hand while sitting down or while walking. Always make sure you stand still when you shake hands.

2. Make eye-contact and smile before you shake hands: It is always advisable to make good eye-contact and offer a pleasant smile before you shake hands. These convey that you really are pleased to meet the person you are shaking hands with.

3. Don't have sweaty palms when you shake hands: Always ensure that you have clean, dry palms before you shake hands. If you anticipate meeting new people, it is always advisable to wipe your palms clean beforehand.

4. Greet the other person: When you shake hands, greet the person. If you are meeting him/her for the first time, say "Pleasure to meet you, Miss/Mr ------" or if you know the person then "Good Morning/Afternoon" or "Hi, How are you?" is appropriate. Make sure you use the title (Mr./Miss/Dr./Rev. etc) and not the first name until you are given permission to call the person by first name. Also remember that when you meet a person for the first time, using his/her name (last name/first name as is appropriate) will help you remember it, and avoid awkward situations where you need to be introduced again to the same person.

5. Have a firm handshake: A limp handshake always leaves a bad impression, so does a bone-crunching handshake. If you are shaking hands with a lady, you can still have a firm handshake - many ladies are offended when someone gives them a limp handshake just because they are women.

6. Length is important: Although etiquette books advise that a good handshake should be about 5 seconds long, you can always take cues from the other person and deliver your handshake accordingly. If a person wants a lengthier/ shorter handshake, give it to them.

7. Thumb-to-thumb grip: A good handshake is not a finger or palm shake. The web between your thumb and index finger should meet the web between their thumb and index finger, for a good handshake. Also, remember that your left hand should NOT be in a pocket or otherwise defensive position when you shake hands - it should always be in a visible place, unclenched and open. In an intimate setting, you may use the left hand to cup the other person's hand, or touch the other person's forearm, elbow, or shoulder.

8. Handshake should be an up-down motion: You should shake hands up and down, not side to side. Also remember that when you shake hands, the movement should be from the wrist point onwards, not just fingers.

9. Initiating a handshake: A handshake should be offered by the person of a higher rank, to the person of a lower rank, in a setting. For example the interviewer should first offer the hand to the interviewed person (otherwise it is considered as an attempt to dominate the interview), the CEO to the junior employee etc. This is applicable to both men and women. However, in a social setting, it is advisable that a man should wait until a lady offers her hand first, before shaking her hands. But many women will not be offended even if you offer her a hand first. In a business setting, a senior employee who is a man should initiate the handshake to a junior lady. Also remember, if by mistake you initiate a handshake when you shouldn't have, just go ahead and finish it properly anyway. The worst mistake is to withdraw a hand mid-shake.

10. Always end your hand-shake with a pleasant smile and eye-contact.

Social Media Networking Tools and Small Business - What Does it Mean to You and How to Get Started

We all witnessed the fiasco that was United Airlines vs. Dave Carroll - and we all saw just how social media can impact business. It really put the whole array of social networking tools squarely in the mainstream discussions of business owners and entrepreneurs.

In the months following that, a whole lot has been written from self-proclaimed business gurus to internationally known media critics. My take here is a basic, nuts and bolts, plain English breakdown from a nerd/business owner.

Before we get to the plan, we need to define "Social Media". At its core, social media is a category or range of tools (including websites and widgets) that allow their users to connect with each other to share information or files. Just like connecting with people face to face, there are rules (etiquette) that differ from community to community and from social group to social group.

If you go to a business networking event to eat the food and race through the room handing out your business cards without actually connecting with anyone, whose fault is it that you didn't get any clients? If you go to an industry event for green business owners and start promoting penthouse condos starting at $2 million, whose fault is it if that doesn't net you business? Does it mean that networking doesn't work? No. Does it mean those groups are not bringing people business? No. It simply means your strategy didn't take into account the other people's needs and interests. You didn't use the tools and opportunities properly.

So how do you manage to get the most out of the time you spend networking online?

1. Take the time to develop your social media plan. Don't start something if you don't have the time to do it properly. You don't have to have every possible account all at once, leaving half-finished or abandoned business profiles littering the web. It just plain doesn't look good.

Realistically evaluate the time you are going to be able to dedicate to social media for your business. Is there someone in your organization who can do it better - and of course, someone you trust with your brand? Can you leverage content you are already creating and port it to these other channels? Are you reading and tracking or clipping news items for your industry anyway - where your list would be of value to either the public or others in your sector?

Investigate what people are already doing in your sector/industry. Find out if and where you are already being discussed. If you are being discussed, you have a natural point to wade into the discussion - but resist the urge to jump in with both feet until you have had the chance to: (a) calm down if what they are saying is negative, (b) consider your response and overall approach, and (c) evaluate the tools that are available to you.

An example: if people are talking on Twitter about how much your company sucks, then clearly, you need a Twitter account. Right now. That's not so that you can get defensive and start telling "your side" of the story, but rather so you can be seen to be interested in your customers and in getting their feedback (and not in a "why don't you say that to my face" manner). Remember, it's a conversation, not an argument.

Next you need to assess which tools are right for you. One of the fun things about social media is that even within a particular medium, there may be multiple tools that let you manage your profile - and some that let you span media (channels).

Imagine you search Twitter and no one has ever mentioned you. Do you need to use this particular social media tool for your business? It depends. Go back to your earlier findings. Watch the trending topics over the span of a couple weeks. Are people talking about key components of your sector? If your business is considered "green" then definitely. Health is another good sector. If you are in the entertainment sector, that's a no-brainer - you need to be there.

Check Facebook. Check Technorati. Do a comprehensive set of Google searches (or whatever your favourite search engine is). Where are your best customers congregating? What are they talking about?

Really, the only way to figure it out is to see what other people are talking about and decide if you can realistically contribute something of value to the existing community - or to create a community if none exists. Don't be afraid to ask your competitors to participate; that is how industry associations get started, plus it adds value to your clientele.

Beyond this, my suggestion is to ask someone who is using the tools for their opinions:

  • Are you happy with your choices?
  • What tools are you using to manage that account? Is it the main website or a third party add-on or application? Are you using anything to be able to repurpose that content elsewhere (e.g. embedding their tweets on your website)?
  • What is missing from this tool? I.e. in a perfect world, what features would you add?
  • If they were to start again, would you use the same tool?
  • How easy is it to switch and keep your content?

Some rules of thumb:

  • Plan to tweet (post to Twitter) at least twice daily, even if it's a retweet of interesting content someone else posted, or a link to a relevant news item.
  • Facebook Fan Pages are way more functional than groups (though I wish they were named something else). You can embed RSS feeds that keep fresh content going through without a whole lot of additional work (make that the landing page).
  • A really good original content blog post is going to take at least 45 minutes. (This one, which started out in my head as 5 simple bullet points, took over two hours.) You can use a mix of original content and pointing to news items of interest to build a comprehensive blog on a topic, or you can use your blog to be a news aggregator. In my experience, the former strategy is the better for keeping people returning to your site because the second strategy leaves you open to imitators, competitors, and things like Google News Alerts replacing your function (and doing it better). Additionally, new content makes your site valuable to other bloggers who can link in and send you more interested visitors.
  • Use aggregators, dashboards, and directory sites. Prep multiple descriptions of varying length for each project and have them at hand to cut and paste.
  • Look for interesting ways to reuse the content across platforms - we originally started tweeting on one of the sites as a faster way to creating a custom list of news items appearing on all pages of the site - editable by the entire team. It was easier to make a twitter account that all editors/writers in house could update (trusted, clearly) rather than have to train them on the CMS. Plus, if people direct an item of interest to us we can quickly retweet it and make it appear.

2. Social media is not an advertising channel. That should be clear from the first point, but I really want to reiterate that. Advertising is pushing your message out to the audience. "Marketing", on the other hand, is every single thing you do that interacts with your clients and potential clients and influences their opinion of you (including advertising). Social media may be part of your marketing plan, but if you start advertising through these channels, expect that part of your plan to fail.

3. Consume more than you create. Are you familiar with that adage in the construction/renovation industry "measure twice, cut once"? Well in using social media as a way to engage your market (notice that I didn't say "advertise your business"), the adage should be: post sparingly, monitor constantly.

To be a legitimate part of the community, you need to be reading and interested in the opinions and postings of other members - even if that is a select, high-end, few. Read what others are saying and comment: blogs, tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn news, etc. Use the search function. Find and save the links that let you track current hot topics of discussion. Using the tools properly and saving the search results as bookmarks will save you time and let you go straight to what interests you.

4. Social media is not a 9 - 5 proposition. Just because you are out and about on the weekend doesn't meant the conversation has stopped. There are tools that will let you have messages that are targeted specifically to your username sent to your cellphone - and let you reply by sending a text message back. Sure, it's fine not to be monitoring it in the middle of the night. But for days on end? Enlist a friend or hire and intern or a Virtual Assistant to check in periodically.

Monitor, monitor, monitor. I have seen so many large corporations (the kind that should know better - and that have employees to actually monitor this) start groups and let them get taken over by spammers in the discussion areas, comments, shared links. When you go to the trouble of advertising that you are cutting edge and embracing new technology, nothing say, "we really don't get it" louder than the same spam message posted in every thread and a links section full of affiliate program spam.

5. Separate your real world friends from your business friends. In my universe, Facebook is (primarily) for friends, LinkedIn is for business. Odds are I won't friend you on Facebook and you should not take that personally. My real-world (meat-space, IRL, whatever) friends span the gamut from hackers to drag queens. They all get along very well with each other when they mix, but they enjoy making double entendres out of almost everything I say or flat out making conjecture as to where I was last Saturday night. (For the record, I was in the new office space removing some built-in tables. Not very exciting.)

For a while I was using the Privacy Settings to give business acquaintances a very limited access version of my profile; now I just point them to LinkedIn.

If after reading all of this, you are still offended by that (because you really need to have 5000 Facebook friends to promote yourself effectively), then perhaps social media isn't for you.

Choosing the Right Business Gifts - A Good Way to Show Appreciation

Giving out business gifts is a great way to build goodwill towards the company. A good choice of business gift reflects a professional image for the company and leaves a positive and long-lasting impression of the company. Such gifts are an ideal way to show appreciation to employees, partners, clients and customers who have been loyal to you.

A good choice business gift is memorable. Appropriateness of the gift should be according to the purpose, the budge, and the benefits supplied by the recipient. Inappropriate gifts will do more harm than good. Be sure to follow protocol whenever engaging in this activity. Do not give away gifts without a proper reason behind it.

When selecting, focus more on the quality rather than quantity. Choose items that your receiver will find useful. The more useful the gift is, the more likely it is that they will use them.You should also consider the etiquette and policies of the company during the selection process. Remember, there are some companies that have some limitations and guidelines concerning them. Understand these limitations and guidelines and always follow them.

Business Gifts ideas

There are wide variety of choices for business gifts and selecting the most applicable one can be a very challenging sometimes. As much as possible, always go for unique items. A good business gift should be distinctive in nature.

Personalized business items, mementos, mugs, fridge magnets, pens, journals, calendars, desk clocks and business cards holders with the company's logo are great options for business gifts. Having the company logo on each item is already a great way to promote your firm. One excellent way to use personalized business gifts is as loyalty reward for your existing customers. However, personalized business gifts should not be too intimate. For instance, do not give a personalized jewelry to any client or employee. Never choose the personalized gifts until you already know what's your recipient wants.

For some safety reason, many would want to give a business gift basket to their loyal patrons, which is a very good option also. You can choose the right gift basket from a wide variety of baskets. Such varieties include savory food baskets, fruit baskets, cigar baskets, wine baskets, flower baskets and many others. You may also think outside the box, like a vacation package for your most outstanding employee.

Different Business Occasions

Business gifts are also an ideal way to commemorate a certain occasion. There are different business occasions where you can distribute business gifts to other people. For example, always present a gift to a person who will be retiring from service. Or, give out gifts to show appreciation to your employees during the company's Recognition Day. Business gifts are also a hit during Christmas Parties and anniversaries. For a retiree, you can give silverware and getaway gift. For Recognition Day, you may give plaque or trophy.

Sometimes companies distribute business gifts during events and meeting to thank their associates. Most popular items they would want to distribute are leather wallets, business gift bags, briefcases, conference pads, business pens and caps to motivate their executives, shareholders or investors.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ten Tips For Improving Your Technology Etiquette

Companies today insist on certain technological standards for their workforce because companies are legally and ethically responsible for all of the information that comes from their computers, fax machines, Blackberries, cell phones, etc. But beyond legal compliance issues, to create true credibility in business your techno-etiquette skills must match or exceed your personal etiquette skills when dealing with people.

People judge your character by the levels of civility and basic manners you demonstrate during any face-to face interactions as well as the technological interactions they have with you. For example, you may have impeccable etiquette skills when you are with people and you may treat all people with dignity and respect when they are in your presence. However, if you fail to return phone calls or emails or if you forward someone a barrage of inappropriate jokes with uninvited attachments via email, your character will be in question, and you will risk being deemed a superficial charmer.

* Your cell phones does not ring at inappropriate times and places.
* You avoid loud, one-sided cell phone conversations in public.
* You NEVER provide confidential information about company business over your cellphone, texting, IM's, or emails.
* You silence your audible ring tones such as songs or sounds.
* You avoid checking, reading, and sending IMs and emails on laptops or Blackberries during business meetings.
* You never send emails by using the CC feature instead of using BCC feature, thereby exposing all those on the list.
* You avoid overuse of the "reply all" feature in emails instead of selecting a specific targeted list for those to receive the email.
* You are very careful about not using emotional language or threats in texting, IM's or emails such as, "If I don't receive this report in the next hour, your job is on the line."
* You avoid the overuse of emoticons such as:>} in IMs or email.
* You avoid the overuse of shorthand to those who are unfamiliar with your shorthand terms, such as LM for left message or NW for next week.

Behaviors demonstrate levels of trust in business. Sometimes it is better to speak less and raise your levels of business decorum as a way to deepen rapport with clients and associates.

Etiquette For Giving Business Thank-You Gifts

Giving gifts has been a customary practice when thanking a boss or colleague for providing a good professional assistance, or want to show gratitude towards employees for a job well done. However, it is not just picking anything that is available on the shelf, for it is always best to follow etiquette when giving thank you gifts to a business associate. Below are the courtesies that will help you come up with appropriate thank you gifts. These ways will let your recipient know that you are sincere and appreciative, and you want to strengthen the positive reputation in the workplace.

Budget Limit

If your company has rules and regulations on giving gifts within the workplace, particularly on the price limit, make sure you know it and follow it. That way, you will avoid awkwardness of sending too expensive present that may create questionable impression to your recipient, as well as to colleagues who seen the token. Make sure to confirm it with the Human Resource of your company before listing down possible gifts you will going to purchase.

Making Impression

Present a gifts to your colleague that is classy but not extravagant. It would be much appreciated if it accurately reflects his/her personality and your company itself. This way, you can make a good impression to you recipient, making him/her value your gift for years to come. It is possible to send a high caliber present even if you are sticking to a price limit. For a recipient who do not work for your company, come up with a thank you gift that shows your company's name and logo as a way to reflect a personal expression of thanks.

Be on Time

As much as possible, be timely on thanking your colleague after helping you to complete a hard task. If it's possible for you to buy an appropriate present immediately, then do it. That way, it would be fresh to your recipient's mind a good collaboration between you and him that has just happened, and you've made it quick to thank him and make him feel valued and appreciated after helping you out. The giving can be a day or two after he helped you.

Loyal Employees

For a longtime assistant, receptionist or other loyal employee who has been working in your company for a long time, ideal gifts for them include a gift basket, bouquet of flowers, or other more personal items. You can even purchase her a ticket to a concert or theater. Spa gift certificate is also a valid gift for her, which she can enjoy a relaxing and pampering day at a nice spa during on her day off.

Thank You Notes

Don't forget to add a thank you note to your present. On the card, write a message of thanks to let your recipient know how great you are having him/her as a part of your company, and for working hard to meet the standard your workplace requires. It would be more personal if you hand write your message on the card.

Thank you gifts and other business gifts are available to purchase online. You may want to consider shopping online than shopping at a local gift store, as it is easier and has a much wider selections to choose from. There are thousands of online stores that offer promotional, executive, thank you, and retirement gifts at a wide range of prices.

Text Messaging Etiquette

As technology continues to wrap us in her motherly arms, the growing use of the text message or SMS brings with it an etiquette similar to common table manners. While text messaging offers the freedom of delayed response time and fast communication, text messaging women can often push the wrong buttons. Here are some guidelines when texting or receiving SMS in a relationship.

1. Night time is for sleeping.
You wouldn't call her home phone in the middle of the night and neither should you text. Given that most text message alerts are loud enough to wake a person, respect her lifestyle. A text on random Tuesday morning at 2 am is not cool. The late night SMS will make you look desperate and needy.

2. Don't say anything that you wouldn't say in person.
Similar to emails, the intonation and emotion in a text can be read incorrectly. Be careful using capitals and symbols- they can easily be keyed in the the wrong way and misunderstood. A smile and frown are only one button away from each other but the response will be hugely different.

3. Alcohol and SMS are not friends.
Most of us have probably realised that drunken messaging is a cocktail for disaster. Most of the time the text refers to a booty call of some description. Commonly problems arise when your message backfires and you look like a sleeze or you accidentally text the wrong number and your mother (or boss) is left to decline your sexual advances in the small hours of the morning.

4. Abbreviate appropriately.
Unless you are dating a 14 year old, text speak is best left to a minimum. There is nothing worse than having to painstakingly decipher the coded message of a hyper-abbreviated SMS.

5. Keep messages brief.
Avoid the urge to bombard her with a long string of questions and a message that reads more like a novel. Similarly, realise when to end the text exchange. We are all busy people and your fanatic text barrage will make you look obsessive and possessive.

6. SMS is not for serious issues.
Text messaging provides us with a shield to protect our vulnerability but also offers a weapon for guerrilla warfare. We can use SMS to shyly ask someone on a date but when it comes to serious issues nothing can replace face to face conversation or a phone call. We all know someone who's been dumped by phone or email but being dumped by SMS is the worst. Never break up with a girl via SMS, it makes you look weak and irresponsible. Arguments are sorted faster with a quick call rather than a volley of scathing remarks which often are misinterpreted and simply escalate tensions.

In short, text messaging is fast and fun way to transfer a message when used correctly but be careful, it also has it pitfalls.

Happy dating!

Alexa xxx

For more articles to help your dating visit

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

17 Rules Of Etiquette To Revisit

Back in 2006, a young woman named Karolyn wrote to me and said, "I am new to writing and am thinking about joining a writers group, forum, or message board. I don't want to step on toes, what's the etiquette for such groups?"

It's been nearly six years since she asked that question, but the answer I gave her back then still applies today.

Each writing group has its own set of rules so be sure to check the membership guidelines. Most memberships guidelines are posted somewhere in the forum itself. If you can't locate a set of guidelines, don't be afraid to ask the moderator.

A few rules of thumb:

1. Always post private replies or simple praises and thank yous off list.

2. Always sign your name at the end of an email or post.

3. Keep your taglines short. Your tagline is the two to three sentence blurb under your name. It tells others about your product, service, or website.

4. Always change the heading of each post to match the topic of your discussion.

5. Don't spam list members. Don't think that because you conversed with one of the list members once that he or she will be interested in your home business, your eBay auction, or other money making scheme. Whether you email him or her privately as a solo email or as a group email, it's still spamming.

6. Don't spam the list. Don't send irrelevant messages through the lists. In other words, if it's a writing group, members do not want to read about the latest happenings in your household, forwarded messages from other groups or people you know, or any of those other emails that seem to find their way around the Internet for years and years.

7. Always cut out the part of the email you are replying to and use that as the beginning of your post. Don't leave the whole email in tact as it makes it difficult for others to read when on digest or when trying to understand your point.

8. If a post upsets you or you find you really disagree with what is being said. Stop, take a deep breath, and pray. Wait at least a half hour before posting, then reply. If you reply too soon, your anger or hurt feelings with take over. If you wait, you'll be able to send a more objective post and your post will come across in a more acceptable way.

9. Develop a bit of thick skin. People don't always come across nice in emails and if you don't have thick skin, it can sting.

10. Don't act one way on list and another way off list. In other words, don't be phony. Don't be kind to someone on list then privately email mean things to the person or act superior off list.

11. Stay teachable. Remember that everyone is a student. Even those with hundreds of published articles and/or books and those making a living as a writer full time can still learn something new. And just because someone has a master's degree and you just have a high school diploma, don't let him or her bully you off list. That doesn't make that person better than you.

12. Be willing to grow. Your writing can become stronger when you take critiques with a grain of salt. In the sense that you listen with an open mind, then you take what you can use and apply it to your work and what you can't use you ignore. Sometimes critiques of your work are based on fact such as rules of grammar and style and other times they are based on personal opinion. It's important to learn the difference between the two.

13. Accept differing opinions. Some people tend to think "It's my way or the highway." You have to just let that way of thinking slide right off your shoulders. There are always different ways of doing things and saying things. It's okay to be different, to want different things, and to do things differently. It's okay to change with the times.

14. Some writers are stuck in a certain mindset. They don't like change and don't take change very well. Some even consider certain changes beneath them. Don't let that rub you the wrong way. Understand that is the personality of that writer. Learn what you can from him or her, but you don't have to stay in the same mindset. It's okay to learn and grow and change with the times.

15. Handle people differently-according to his/her personality. My friend recently reminded me that just as Jesus used different methods of delivery when teaching people of his time, from rabbis to children to his apostles to those he healed, we must do the same. We must take into account the person asking the question and adjust our answers accordingly. And we must do the same with those who've given answers in which we have a reply or additional comment to make.

16. Don't just take, give back. So many people stay in lurk mode. They glean and glean and glean, but they rarely respond or take part in conversations. If you've been blessed with valuable information, as soon as you have wisdom to share, share it.

17. Remember that you joined the group to learn to become a professional writer and to make friends with your colleagues. If you feel, at any time, that the group is dragging you down or distracting you from your goal, it may be time to say goodbye and look for another group.