Thursday, May 30, 2013

Customer Service Excellence is Business Etiquette Plus Personality

Consider customer service as business etiquette plus personality and you'll have happy, loyal customers. Policy alone never serves customers as it does nothing to foster business relationships.

Service is what customers expect based on your branding. Personal encounters with anyone in your company, your public image and reputation, hearsay, and web presence all contribute to your branding. Yet, it's more than that. What customers believe is the only reality you need to embrace.

Business etiquette is making others feel comfortable in a business setting not a social setting. The key to making a great outcome for both parties often lies in the personality of the customer care representative. A rep that can only follow a script almost always infuriates customers. Hiring the best personalities and then allowing and encouraging these reps to express themselves is the opportunity to create a connection.

Look at etiquette as the framework around policy and service. Making others feel heard, comfortable and respected is sound business advice. Yet, it isn't always easy to do, especially if you are still operating in the era of the "golden rule." The "do unto others as you would like done unto you" only works if those others think and feel the same way that you do.

If you've gotten this far in life, you've learned the harsh reality that others don't think the same way as you do. Here's where personality and a bit of savvy can add integrity to customer service.

Policy plus politeness are good things to have in place but they don't create, save or enhance a customer relationship. Only personality can do that.

Some will quibble over the term personality but if you listen to stories about outstanding service rarely are guidelines mentioned. No-it's the attitude, humor, empathy and good judgment demonstrated by the interpreter of the guidelines who made the difference. Character created the rapport. And this is no more important than with an upset customer.

I've seen even the most out-of-control customers calmed and turned around by service providers with exceptional personalities. One front desk associate comes to mind. Her ability to sincerely, sweetly and in the most soothing voice you ever heard take an outraged client threatening to cancel an order and turn them into a fan. She knew how to listen beyond the words to personalize her conversations.

Policy, politeness and a winning personality are the keys to outstanding customer service.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Power Perch! What is It? (Where to Sit During a Business Meeting Or Meal)

A few weeks ago, I asked YOU, my loyal readers, to share your image, etiquette, and communication questions with me. So let's begin with a question I receive quite often. Jill wrote, "I would like to know more about where to sit at a table with my boss and a prospective client during a business meal, as well as at a conference table or in a private office for a meeting."

Two items are at play here. First, we have a prospective client for whom we would like to create a comfortable environment. Secondly, we have a boss whose seniority should be acknowledged and respected. So how do we do that? Let's tackle the seniority portion of this question first.

Traditionally, the head of the table at the end farthest from the door is the "power perch." At business meetings, it is reserved for the most senior person present. The two other important positions would be the seat to the right of the power perch followed by the seat to the left of the power perch. If it is not too far away, the seat directly opposite the power perch can also be another important position. That being said, let's assume you are taking a seat at a rectangular table. Your boss will most likely sit at the head of the table, at which time you should select the seat to his or her right leaving the seat to his or her left for your client.

At business meetings, it is not uncommon for the person who called the meeting (or will be facilitating the meeting) to sit at the head of the table. In this case, due respect should be given to the most senior person present by inviting him or her to sit to the right of the power perch. If you and your boss decide in advance you are taking the lead and facilitating the discussion, then the power perch would be reserved for you, at which time he or she would take a seat to your right.

A Little Bit of History

You may recall that King Arthur (per the wizard Merlin's recommendation) seated his knights at a round table. Merlin believed that a round table would blur inter-knight status distinction. He was right, and the principle is still valid today. I recommend using a round table whenever possible to reduce the emphasis on status positions and create a more collegial atmosphere.

Creating a comfortable environment for the person who is truly most important - the CLIENT!

When entertaining a client, the primary goal should be to create a comfortable environment that meets his or her needs. That's why I recommend that the seating arrangements be discussed in advance so that you, your boss and anyone else from your organization in attendance are all on the same page. Preparing in advance allows you to avoid potentially awkward situations. This type of "seating choreography" is very common in today's professional business environment.

The Business Meal

During a business meal, the power perch is traditionally reserved for the host/hostess. Again, I recommend that you and your boss decide in advance who will serve as the host/hostess. Once decided, this person's role will be to anticipate the needs of your guest(s) and to communicate with the wait staff. Select a seat at the table where you can easily do this.

Jill, thank you for your question!

The Importance Of A Business Card And What A Business Card Says About Your Business

Have you ever met someone and exchanged business cards to realize how terrifying their business cards are? Well as a marketing consultant I found myself in this position too many times. I have seen the cards you can't read because the writing is too small or the background and foreground are similar shades. This forces you look for lighting so you could read the information or you can barely hold the card because the paper is so thin and cheap. It is time to realize that your business card represents your company's image as much as your customer service or services you offer. People fail to understand that and trying to save on cheap business cards will hurt a business in the long run. Just like any other strategies to marketing there is such a thing as business card etiquette.

  1. Paper- having a good paper weight for your business cards is a must, whether you choose a standard paper or linen paper. I understand that small businesses have a smaller budget but in 2008 a good quality business card is not that expensive. So, those who buy the $3.99 special online will get exactly what they pay for: nothing. Every well organized business knows the value of a worthy business card.
  2. Background and foreground shades- the other day I was trying to read a navy blue business card with black lettering. Well, I gave up because I got annoyed of killing my eyes. You don't want people to have that feeling about your card. The background color of your card should always be at least two shades lighter then the foreground.
  3. Information- a business card should at least include your logo and company name, your name (first and last), position, phone number, fax number if possible, address (if you work from home invest in a P.O. Box), e-mail address (optional), a web site (in 2008, a web site is highly recommended and can be very cheap as little as $20 a month with a website builder hosting account), and last but not least something about your company.
  4. Unique Decoration- yes, sometimes the standard background you got for free worked better for your budget, at least so you think. By having the same card as others you just become one in a bunch and forgettable. Your card should stand out and make you memorable, so if you opt for a design, a unique design is a must. Your d├ęcor should represent your company with your logo's colors, company themes, etc. Also keep in mind that too complicated backgrounds might unable good use of scanning software to import cards into electronic storage.
  5. Size- the standard size of a business card is 3 ½"x 2"; stick to it. Like me, some people like to put business cards away in standard business cards albums or holders. Standard size business cards are also better for those who use scanning software to import cards into electronic storage.
  6. Blank back- you have two sides on a business cards, which means twice the opportunity to advertise yourself and business so take advantage of it. One side should have all your contact information and the other should have a picture related to your industry or a promotion or anything that will make it more valuable.

Remember the fundamentals of business cards are very important in representing yourself and company. A creative professional business cards will go a long way in creating a positive image of your and business. Your business card is a marketing tool as much as any other. In 2008 a unique designed business card can be done inexpensively and printed inexpensively as well. Don't let a few more dollars send out the wrong message about you and your business.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wedding Invitation Etiquette - It's Still Important

When making plans for your wedding day, there are quite a few items to consider regarding correct protocol. There are certain ways to carry out the ceremony, the reception and all of the fine points that are essential for a marriage. There are standards for situations including apparel, manners, processes and announcements. Also, there is wedding invitation etiquette.

Wedding invitation etiquette comprises the proper processes to proclaim your wedding. Invitations are distributed to friends, family and additional acquaintances who you would like to attend. If performing a big church affair, invitations are sent to friends and family of both the bride and groom. If inviting individuals connected through business, it ought to be done out of closeness, not for connections. For smaller home weddings, the list can be narrowed down to family and dear friends. Consideration should be given to how many guests can comfortably fit into the gathering area.

Here are several general guidelines when it concerns wedding invitation etiquette:

*Invitations must communicate the mood of the event, be it traditional, contemporary, simple or informal.

*The invitations have to set out the particulars about the events of the day.

*You must be unambiguous in both the words and the connotation when it comes to time, location, clothing, directions or any additional information necessary for the big day.

*You will need to send out your invitations far enough in advance of the occasion to allow your guests to respond and make their plans appropriately.

*When inviting a guest to the ceremony, it is correct protocol to also invite them to the reception.

There are two kinds of wedding invitations, formal and informal. Formal wedding invitation etiquette, the conventional style, is most often employed when planning a large elaborate gathering or a huge church wedding. Informal etiquette can be for small family weddings where things will be more relaxed.

Formal wedding invitations typically have the following rules:

*Names are normally written out in full, including middle name

*All words are supposed to be spelled out, including the date, time and year. All street addresses must adhere to this rule as well.

*Instead of 3rd, or "the third", use III (Roman numerals)

*Formal invitations include two envelopes, the main one and the reply envelope

*Religious circumstances "request the honor of your presence" while non-religious gatherings "request the pleasure of your company"

Informal invitations typically keep to these guidelines:

*Hand written, email and telephone invitations are acceptable

*Less formal use of tone and words

*Uncomplicated statements of time, date, place, directions, along with who is to be wed.

Formal wedding invitations are the most common. On the other hand, informal invitations allow couples more opportunity for originality.

Interview Etiquette - Ways to Land That Job

Because of the many layoffs that are occurring throughout the business world, many people are having to polish up on their interview etiquette. Although it sounds quite simple to be on your best behavior, many people mess up their interview because of poor etiquette. The reasons could be anything. Some people just get too nervous that they forget what they are supposed to do. Other people are simply oblivious to how they are acting and do not see anything wrong with it. Many people offend their interviewer without even realizing it. To prevent all this from happening so you can land your next job, you have to follow a few tips.

The first way to have good interview etiquette begins with your timing. You want to make sure you show up early for your interview. If you arrive earlier than 15 minutes, you should wait in your car or wait outside until at least 10 minutes before. The reason for this is because you have to be aware that the company set aside time in their busy schedule for you. They did not set aside the time, plus an additional 20 minutes in case you were early. Many companies view showing up too early as an insult. It basically is as bad as showing up late. When you show up late, your future employer will assume that you always will be late.

Another key to good interview etiquette is in your hand shake. You want to have a firm handshake that lets your interviewer know that you are confident in your skills. Make sure you are not too firm that you are making the person's hand numb. Also, do not be too kind in the hand shake that your hand just feels limp in your interviewer's hand. You also need to make sure you are kind to everyone you come into contact with, not just your interviewers. If you walk past a receptionist, make sure you greet them kindly. They might be asked later about their opinion of you. You never know when it comes to interviews.

Good interview etiquette also needs to come into play if you no longer intend to show up. Whether you found out something about the company during your research or whether another job opportunity arose, you should never just not show up. Call to cancel and make sure you give as much notice as you can. You should not call five minutes before your interview was to take place. You might actually end up working for or with that company down the road, so you do not want to be rude before you even meet them.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Business Gifts - A Way to Create Business Wonders

Giving business gifts has been a part of business industry standard. Business firms of different sizes give out business gifts for some reasons every year. It is a business etiquette that significantly brings effective surprises. When it comes to appreciating employees, clients and customers, business gifts are likely to be given. The same holds true when acknowledging milestones, retirements and important occasions and holidays. There are so many presents that are available both in local and online market. In these days and times where there is a high demand for such tokens, specialty stores are trying to beat each other by coming up with various business gift ideas to attract their consumers.

Business presents can make a way to create business wonders. If you want to motivate your employees or boost their morale, plan a recognition day and give out recognition gifts. That way, you can show them that their hard work and presence have been appreciated and recognized - an encouraging way to let them do another good work and maintain their work interest.

Gifts for clients are another type of gift that can work wonders to your advantage. Giving client gifts is a great way to show appreciation towards your loyal patronizers. It is also a way to build new relationship and strengthen existing ones. By giving the right gifts for clients, you are also making a good image and an impression that will encourage your clients to do a repeat business with you.

Business gifts come in different sizes, styles, designs and prices. Depending on the type, you can  also choose various colored gifts. Of course, you should always look for gifts that are in good quality. Remember, what you have chosen can tell a story about your image, and you don't want to ruin that in just a snap. Business presents can make or break your business firm, so make sure to give proper care and attention when managing them.

Business gifts were not made equally. There are appropriate gifts for the high management that should be a bit expensive than gifts for the lower ones. Depending on the type of recipient you have, business presents usually vary on the level of formality and price range.

Before giving gifts, you have to keep in mind a few important reminders. First is you budget, then who your recipient is, and limitations of your recipient when it comes to receiving business gifts.

When shopping business gifts, most people opt to shop online than shopping at a local gift stores. Today, thousands of online stores that specialize on different types of business presents, from gifts for employees, presents for clients, executive gifts to retirement gifts. These are likely in the form of plaques, trophies, office desk accessories, business card holders, desk clocks, journals, handbags, pens and the likes. All these items can be personalized with your company name and/or logo, a personal message and other details that you want to include on the presents.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Business Cards - Symbol of Good Business Etiquette

There is nothing more personal than a card-in-hand! A business card is unique way of exchanging contact information and is usually used during sales calls and offer contact information to a potential customer. They are swapped during formal introductions and act as a convenience and a memory aid. A business card usually has the name of the person, company along with the logo, contact information, address and URL of the website. Business cards have traveled a long way from simple black text on white stock to a professionally designed one that features captivating visual design. For businessmen across the world they have become a sign of prestige and stand as a symbol of good business etiquette.

In the age of globalization they have almost become a necessity. Imagine yourself sitting with 10-15 people. It's not easy to remember the names of all the persons present at the gathering, you need a card to serve the purpose.

A recent trade research reveals that the business card printing in the US is a $1.2 billion industry and with the advent of advanced technology the function of business cards is increasing. Yes that's right, nowadays people are anxious to make a distinction with passionately vibrant and multi-textured formats, from plastics to linens. Some sophisticated business cards even carry computer chips which enable you to plug it into your PC and download catalogs or company information.

Yesterday I met one of my friend who offered me his business card. It was a double sided business card with facts about himself, name of the company and website. The card was unique as when it was turned to an angle it shows a sequence of images of a man in camouflage climbing on a boulder. He told me that everyone looks at it and hands it back to me. When I tell them I'm giving it to them, they say, really! Oh wow, can I keep this?

You must be thinking what you have to do with all this? There is a relation. Business cards are a form of advertising. No matter what you are selling, product or yourself, uniquely designed business with amazing visuals or appealing images can enhance your business prospect by leaps and bounds. A unique card will cost you a little extra but the reaction you will be getting is priceless.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Business Phone Services

One of the most important components in running a successful business is having a reliable business phone service system. With the technology available today, the list of business communications applications seems endless.

Among the business phone services, telecom audio conferencing is the perfect solution for today's business environment. Through telecom audio conferencing you can organize a world wide meeting in minutes and respond to business issues on the spot. This enhances productivity and saves on hidden meeting costs involved in travel and accommodations. The participants are able to get on with their work before and after the meeting, without wasting their time.

Answer and message service is another key advantage of business phones. This service controls business calls, particularly during busy periods. Answer and message services enables an automatic answering device to calls in the company's name. The answer and message service receives a message option, fax, email, pager or mobile message. It will immediately let you know who has called, when and what the message was. It has also got the option of immediate message delivery to a specific caller. Another feature of the answer and message service is a call transfer to another number. A client's call can be assigned to a business partner if you are unavailable. That way, customers get rapid response to their calls.

Voice over internet protocol or VoIP is gaining wide usage among business phone services, as it offers more features and lower costs than conventional analog phone systems. It not only saves cost, but also provides email, voice mail, instant messaging, voice communications and data services on one network. VoIP business phones are mainly used for small and medium businesses.

Toll free number is another notable business phone service. For a better quality business, a toll free number is essential. Toll free numbers allow customers to reach you faster and easier, thereby increasing your business.

Most of the integrated communication providers give a package of local and long distance services to business people. In this package, they combine basic local and long distance calling with popular and unique features for a low monthly fee.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Do You Practice Etiquette and How Are You Using it For Your Business?

With the economy going down and down all over the world, more and more bold people are taking the initiative in starting their own business but unfortunately, only a minority are leveraging etiquette in their businesses.

It looks as if when people step out of the corporate world to start their own business they forget about all the etiquette they learned for their jobs that kept them rising in the ranks.

As a business owner, an entrepreneur or an individual looking to start your own business, never has it been very necessary for you to leverage the etiquette lessons you learned for your last job.

The principles are practically the same. It is just a matter of making a conscious effort to tailor it now to suit you as a new business owner or entrepreneur.

The best part about applying etiquette in your business is that it just keeps building your reputation and image and helps you to set yourself apart from the competition while building a respected brand that people trust and never forget so...

1.The number one thing for you to start doing is to use your etiquette as one of your marketing strategies for your business to set you apart from the competition. Not many people are doing this!

2.Know your clients or customers very well so that you can know how to treat them well feel comfortable with you in order to gain their trust.

3.Always make sure you understand the language your target group interacts with in order to communicate effectively with them.

4.Pay attention to your target market because your attention to them equals your profits.

5.Use your etiquette to create a persona of the leading expert in your industry.

The competition is great so setting yourself apart by creating your indelible personal brand through the use of proper business etiquette is a surefire way to gain an edge over your competition.

Rules of Holiday Etiquette

Chances are you will be invited to someone's home to celebrate the holiday season. As a guest, it is important to be respectful and exhibit good manners and proper etiquette in the home of your host.

Part of the professional and social process is being able to understand how to be a proper guest and present oneself in a sophisticated and charismatic manner while enjoying a festive occasion.

Following these simple rules of holiday etiquette will ensure a smooth, enjoyable evening:

* Present your host with a nicely wrapped gift to express appreciation and gratitude.

* Limit the alcohol and avoid hard liquor. Opt for wine or sparkling cider.

* Think before you speak. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

* Don't hover around the buffet table, overload your plate, double-dip, talk with food in your mouth, or chew with your mouth open.

* Don't fuss over your food and taste all dishes served unless it violates your religious beliefs or health restrictions.

* Dress appropriately for the occasion. When in doubt opt to dress up rather than casual, or call the host in advance for guidelines on the dress code.

* Clean up behind yourself and respect your host's property and privacy. Use coasters or napkins when necessary and don't wander around the residence or tour areas that are restricted.

* Be considerate and don't overstay your welcome.

* Depart graciously by shaking hands and extending well wishes to the host and guests. Thank the host for his/her hospitality and an enjoyable evening.

* Send a handwritten thank-you note within two days to express gratitude for a lovely occasion and warm hospitality.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Business Etiquette - How to Be Customer Service Friendly

Competitors don't stand a chance when the goal is to put the word "service" back into customer service. Here's a guide on how to get there:


Good help may be hard to find but it shouldn't be at the expense of projecting a positive business image. Anyone that represents a company should communicate an upbeat attitude. The tone of the initial customer contact, either in person or by telephone, can make or break an impression. Psychologists agree that a smile can be "heard", even over the telephone. When a customer experiences a sour face or a curt tone, they may be reluctant to do business with a company.


Excellent customer service providers know how to turn regular customers into loyal ones. It starts simply with extending basic courtesies to everyone. Unsolicited personal woes or long-winded anecdotes are off limits. Maintaining a pleasant business demeanor without appearing aloof is a sign of professionalism. Should a customer initiate a casual conversation, remember the rules of etiquette.

One of the best relationship-building practices that can make a lasting impression is to remember a customer's name and then address them personally when they return. Remember their favorite product and find a way to make that information useful. Offering expert tips or sharing product knowledge will make you a valuable resource. These practices are the foundation of long-term business relationships.


Returning customers will know how much they are valued when incentives are offered. Implement a rewards program based on perks to keep a customer happy and coming back. There are many ways to thank loyal customers and make them feel special. Offering exclusive product samples or invitations to private sales are ways to express appreciation. The ideas are only limited by a budget and the ability to be creative.


Strive to exceed customer expectations whenever possible. Everyone expects to get what they pay for in a business transaction of any kind. But when a business provides "over the top" service, customers will return the favor with repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising. That extra service can be as simple as carrying packages to a car or the occasional gift of free shipping. The surprise of "a little something extra"- like the 13th item in a dozen- is always well received, especially when it is unexpected.


Giving customers the opportunity to voice concerns or make suggestions is one of the cornerstones of exceptional customer service. Many companies now employ marketing research firms in an attempt to track the quality of their goods and services. When customers take the time to provide feedback, it should be met with an open mind and viewed as an opportunity to improve.

Follow up on customer complaints. Resolving problems quickly and efficiently can turn an unhappy complainer into a satisfied customer. Finding a satisfactory resolution or honoring a promise to call back are often overlooked practices. The result is not only a dissatisfied customer but a frustrated one as well.


Very few words are more annoying to customer than hearing the infamous, "It's not our policy" speech. Those words will almost guarantee a lost customer. Policies and procedures are necessary to running a successful business; however, there are exceptions to every rule. Smart business owners know when to make those exceptions. Carefully weigh the cost of deviating from policy with the future spending power of a customer, and the answer is usually apparent.


A customer is always right even when they are wrong. Somewhere along the way this message seems to have been lost in the handbook of best practices. No customer was ever won over by being corrected, disrespected, argued with or taken for granted. If a customer decides not to do business with a company, it should never be for any of the above reasons.

Interview Dining Etiquette - How to Make a Great Impression with Dining Etiquette at a Job Interview

Did you know that a business meal is often a test for new hires?

That's because at the dining table our manners are on display. Like it or not, we are judged by how we act. People who grab the breadbasket without offering anyone a roll, or shovel food into their mouths, make poor impressions. An employer may conclude that they are aggressive, insensitive, or immature, and question their potential for advancement.

Here are some tips for acing the interview at a business meal:

o Arrive on time or a few minutes early.

o Stick with the basics, such as soup, main course and beverage. Order an appetizer or dessert only if the host suggests it.

o Don't order alcohol unless the host orders wine for the table.

o Don't grill the server on how a dish is prepared, or reveal details about your eating habits. No one wants to know about your low-carb diet.

o Don't order something like a gratin. It takes a long time to prepare and holds up the meal.

o Avoid foods that are messy or difficult to eat, such as lobster, spaghetti, cherry tomatoes (which squirt!), fried chicken, spare ribs, and corn on the cob. Choose foods that are easy to eat with a knife and fork, such as chicken, beef, fish, or quiche.

Proper table etiquette

o Know which fork to use. Look at your place setting. Your bread plate is always on the left. Glasses are always on the right. How can you remember? Easy. The words Food and Left each have four letters. The words Drink and Right each have five letters.

o Always pick up the utensils on the outside first. Then, just work your way in with each course.

Table manners that pay off

o Place your napkin on your lap and use it frequently to wipe your fingers and dab your lips. If you leave the table during the meal, put your napkin on your chair. Never put a soiled napkin on the table until the end of the meal, where you place it, gently crumpled, to the left of your plate.

o Don't cut your roll in half, butter it and chomp into it. Instead, break off one bite-sized piece at a time, butter it and put it into your mouth.

o Thank the host in person. Then send a note after the meal.

Don't get confused about why you are at the table. At a business meal you are really at a job interview that includes tableware. Your manners are on display, and you'll be more likely to secure the job if you have good table manners.

Are Business Cards Obsolete?

The idea for this article came after participating in a LinkedIn discussion group where someone posed this topic. "While going through a stack of business cards the thought occurred to me that many were outdated since many of the companies no longer exist or the person on the card moved on. I find more people on LinkedIn and other sites and get introduced to people both over the phone and electronically. Now, once a card is uploaded or information is saved in a mobile device the card gets discarded. (Unless you are a pack rat.) Do we need business cards in this brave new world?"

This responses were so interesting and varied that I thought I would incorporate them into this article and hopefully provide some enhancements that you might make to your cards the next time that you have them printed.

In this social media era one would think perhaps that the usefulness of a business card is going by the wayside. Everyone is so plugged in with their smart phone and apps that perhaps they are obsolete. Do you remember not so long ago, pre-Smart Phones, when we all had Palm Pilots and you would exchange info by pointing it at each other! That thing went the way of the Beeper!

Certainly at face to face meetings with people a business card is still necessary especially if you have a name that someone could never spell without the aid of the card! In an internet search on this topic I found a recent on line poll that stated 70% of professional people still use business cards on a regular basis, 13% no longer use them and 14% occasionally use them when they remember to carry them. No mention of the other 3% was made.

One place where business cards are an absolute must is at Trade Shows and networking events. However, most people at networking events seem to make it a big game of running around collecting them and never connecting with anyone.

Cultural differences with business cards

An interesting aspect of the discussion was that someone pointed out that the Japanese present their cards with a great deal of respect. They hold the other person's card cupped in both hands as though it is an object of value instead of immediately stuffing it in their pockets. Since the card represents the person, it's valuing the individual.

One person shared on this point - "I have had some experience with this during my tenure in Silicon Valley and San Francisco working with many Asian companies. In the Japanese culture, it's considered a great accomplishment to rise to a level that warrants having your own business card - lot's of hard work and lot's of sacrifice - so having a business card is worthy of respect and there is a high assignment of value towards people who possess a business card as a result. They present with both hands, and it is proper etiquette as an American to spend a few moments reviewing the card vs just stuffing it in your pocket, which is considered an insult in their culture and you have little chance of doing a deal no matter how courteous the ensuing discussion."

This was new information to me and it made me think of how many business cards end up in the trash the next day. They are either trashed because the person provided "no value" or they are trashed after their contact information is input into some contact management system. Either way, not good for reducing our carbon footprint! I know I can be somewhat lazy about this and developed my infamous envelope solution. Rather than manually inputting their information I sort the cards into different categories of people, business or networking events and write that category on the envelop. Not truly effective or high tech, but I do back through them periodically to see if there is someone that I should contact to build a connection.

Business cards get social

What did come out in this discussion loud and clear is that people often go to the next step after meeting a key contact. They "Google" their name to learn more about them. If they do not find anything there, they will go to LinkedIn and read that profile. So what that tells me is that our business cards are lacking some key information to connect with people.

More and more business people are creating profiles for social networks and are branding their own name with personal blogs that show they are the expert in their field. It would make sense that your business card at least provide your personal URL site to direct your connections to learn more about you.

Additionally, it is helpful to provide your social media contact information to assist people to connect with you. If you have a blog, you should just direct someone to your site where they can connect with you in Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook. By the time all of this information gets listed on your card, there is probably little space.

A growing trend is for people to put a QR code on their business card. QR code is a 2 dimension bar code that can store all your business card information with it. If you print it at the back of your business card people can scan your QR code and all your business card information would be directly transferred to their address book. This would include all of your social media information as well.

There are a couple of options for using the QR code with on your business card. You can search online for websites that will do a free QR code for you and this can be printed and put on your business card. Anyone with a smart phone and app can quickly scan your contact information into their phone and contact management system. A friend of mine ordered some interesting new cards that are more like Trading Cards from a site called Meet-MeMe. It has has her picture, Twitter followers, personal website, email and phone number all listed in addition to her QR code. On the reverse side she has a short bio, favorite quote and special qualities listed. The cards also match the color of her personal brand from her website and profiles. There are similar providers offering these services on the internet.

The bottom line is that business cards are still relevant, but there is a growing need for people to furnish people with ways to connect via social media. The most professional way is to purchase your own domain name and personally brand yourself with your online business card/ blog. We have gone past adding people as "contacts" these days, we now want them as a "connection". What are your thoughts about social media business cards?

Monday, May 20, 2013

How the Etiquette For Business Social Networking Came To Be

Social networking for business was mostly influenced by the way that the social networks were already being used. The truth about most social networks is that they were developed by college students who were looking to communicate with each other more effectively and quickly. This lead to technology that was not optimal for business use. Therefore, the business owners who were early adopters followed the pattern that had already existed on the networks and tried to use the format for business success. However, any system not generated for business success is doomed to fail when used for business purposes.

Businesses were forced to share information across the social network in non-secure ways. In the early days of social media (and this still exists on most sites) a business could not pick and choose who could see a message and who could not. This leads to sharing of secrets that a business would normally try to hide (if the business was not careful). It can also lead to the inability to communicate effectively with their peers or business associates. Either one of these problems caused most businesses not to adopt social media systems in their businesses. They were just too risky to be used inside business systems.

Sharing important information was too easy to push down with other content. Most of the people on the social networks are individuals and not businesses. This means that content from a business can be easily pushed down by random chatter from the lists. This means that sales messages and business information that may be pertinent is lost to the influx of general information about another person's life. This made businesses far less likely to use the system, or to use the system like other people who were already using the system (which is ineffective for business purposes).

A lot of innovations inside the system did not appear until much later. This is especially true from business owners or business people, most people tried to swim with the tide instead of testing how different actions affected the tide. Most businesses tried to enter the status quo and talk like the users did (who were not using the system for business purposes). It was not until much later when businesses tried to optimize their profiles for search engines. This is a practice that is just in its infant stages on the social networking platforms. The truth is that most businesses are too willing to swim with the tide than to try different approaches to using the tide. This is all because of the original users of the system who set the precedent for those who followed them.

Most of the business practices that exist on the social networks were developed by people who were not business owners. These people set the etiquette for the users a very long time ago and most business people have not bothered to question why things are done the way they are on the social networks. When a business enters the social networking world, they need to look at the practices that are being used on those platforms. A plan must be generated and if a new technique is better suited for business than the existing practice then it must be tested and implemented.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Internet Marketing For Small Business - Twitter For Business

After all, everybody's doing it so maybe you should too.

What is Twitter and why should businesses care?

In simple terms, Twitter is a free service that allows users to communicate with their followers to tell them "what they are doing". Twitter has become one of the biggest social media websites on the internet and is used for both personal and business purposes, resulting in a ton of relationships with people all around the world.

So how does it work? It's very simple, you can say almost anything to anybody in 140 characters or less (that is the space Twitter gives you per message). You are probably thinking "is that it?", well, no, not quite. While there are those using it to tell others what they had for lunch or what movie they watched, millions of people are using Twitter as a way to network and communicate with new and old contacts. Additionally, Twitter is designed like most social media tools with the ability to subscribe or share as many twitter feeds as you like.

So first things first, create your twitter account at by clicking on the 'sign up now' button. Once you create your account, you will be given a homepage and a profile page. From these pages, you can update your profile, add your domain name and find other twitter streams to follow, post your own messages and watch the public stream of comments (don't do this unless your bored). It is also a good idea to create an image or avatar in your profile so that it appears next to your twitter message when you tweet.

Some basic Twitter etiquette you must know:

  • Tweet: When you post 140 characters on 'what you are doing now"
  • Handle: that is your twitter name, for example mine is @aimeevo. It doesn't have to be your own name, it could be your business name or any name you want it to be.
  • Follow: this is adding someone to your list of people who are following you.
  • Replies: You respond by someone's tweet or to direct a conversation to someone by putting an "@" in front of their username.
  • DM: this a direct message that is sent directly to another user. They must be following you for you to DM them, but this is a very useful tool for private messages and generally a good choice when you start going back and forth with
  • someone on something your entire base of followers might not find interesting.
  • Hashtag - this is a way people categorize tweets so that others might use the same tag and effectively create a way for people to view related tweets. For example, something like #marketing - more on this in search will allow users to view tweets on that topic or category.

Now in regards to business, you can use Twitter for the following:

  1. A help desk: businesses are now using Twitter for customer support or enquiries. For example, if your business sells software and a client has troubleshooting problems, you may post a twitter message which will be picked up to the whole twitter community.
  2. Employee interaction for your business: a great way is to set up an account that everyone in the company or business can direct tweets to as they find content and want to bookmark it for others to quickly view.
  3. Getting leads: Getting leads and business by participating on sites like twitter is an interesting concept. I'm not saying you should just sell and promote your goods and services online but tweet information of value that is related to your business. Perhaps offering a solution to a specific problem which entails explaining your product or service. Use the 'Advance Search' to find certain keywords that relate to a problem your business deals with.

In general use Twitter wisely for business, do not spam or market your products endlessly. It's like going to a party, seeing a gorgeous girl and asking her whether she like to go to bed with you. Yes I know it's not the same but remember, Twitter was design as a social networking site and for that you must be social and interact with your fellow followers. In return, you build relationships and as they get to know you, your next tweet about your product or service won't seem so evasive.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How to Become a Foremost Authority Person in Your Industry Using Professional Etiquette

Professional etiquette has helped savvy business people to attain many great successes on their business including becoming the foremost authority in their field.

The way you present yourself to your target market is how they will perceive you. Do you look the part you play in your business? Do you exhibit confidence, trust, the appropriate image and authority?

How do you deal with difficult people who test your pulse? Are you accountable? Do you show a sense of commitment to both your business and your clients?

There happens to be so much clutter in the business environment today in a way that potential clients just want to seek out those solution providers who stand out and proof to be the foremost authority in the industry.

It is not enough to call yourself a leader, or to lash out all your credentials and experiences in your industry anymore.

What you need as an entrepreneur is to have the personality and image of "The Foremost" person who exhibits the authority and commitment that comes with it. In addition, you need to build the expert status and reputation for that particular industry for the potential clients to accept you as one who knows his or her subject and can be trusted to help.

Fortunately you can achieve this status now very easily by using professional business etiquette in the following ways:

  1. Be congruent and consistent in your market. As long as you are willing to communicate appropriately relevant information and solutions to your target market, you gradually earn their respect and recognition.
  2. Also show that you care by providing value in exchange for value in any transaction you have with your clients. This will show your clients that you recognize and acknowledge them for who they are personally and what they bring to the table.
  3. Show respect to your target market in order for them to also show loyalty to you. The other good thing about this is that it also strengthens your personal and business brand because this causes your clients and target market to talk about you and your business to other potential clients.
  4. Dress the part and be seen as the expert to go to. People respond better to uniforms and are more likely to respond better if you dress appropriately in the right business attire that goes with your profession.

By using the power of business and professional etiquette, you create the persona of the foremost person in your field and this is one sure fire way to quickly establish yourself as an expert and a celebrity in your industry to attract quality clients and customers.

The Top Twelve Business Etiquette Tips For Social Media

There is no doubt about it-social networking, or social media if you prefer, is all the buzz. A report just out by Forrester's Research indicates that 51% of online Americans have joined a social network. Another 73% are consuming some form of social content on a regular basis. People are connecting with, listening to, following and collaborating with each other online at an amazing rate.

Some people are using it for personal reasons. They are sharing their recipes, their photos and their ideas to stay up to date with their friends and family. Business people are using social networking sites to build their careers, promote their business and grow their reputations.

The most popular social networking sites are Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. Each one of those sites is uniquely positioned and serves a particular population or purpose. There are other online networking sites, numbering in the thousands, so at this point, they shall remain nameless.

The purpose of this article is not to provide information on which networking sites you should choose and why, but to provide you with tips on the etiquette of social networking. Once again, as with e-mail, cell phones, Blackberries and other technological devices or technologically driven communication, we got the technology up front and we have backed into the rules for using it with courtesy and consideration.

I am starting with a list of twelve tips on the etiquette of social networking for the polished professional. The list will, no doubt, grow with time.

#1. Fill out your online profiles completely with information about you and your business. Use your real name and your own photo. Your cat may be adorable, but unless you are a veterinarian specializing in the care and treatment of felines, don't get cute.

#2. Use a different profile or account for your personal connections. Business and pleasure do not mix in this medium.

#3. Create a section on your main profile detailing who you are seeking to befriend and ask that visitors abide by that information. Everyone need not apply.

#4. Offer information of value. Don't talk just about yourself and your company.

#5. Don't approach strangers and ask them to be friends with you just so you can then try to sell them on your products or services. You will quickly lose credibility and your so-called "friends."

#6. Pick a screen name that represents you and your company well. Don't call yourself "Loser1" unless you want to be known by that name.

#7. Don't send out requests for birthdays, invitations to play games or other timewasters for those using the site.

#8. Don't put anything on the Internet that you don't want your future boss, current client or potential clients to read.

#9. Check out the people who want to follow you or be your friend. Your mother was right when she said that people will judge you by the company you keep.

#10. If someone does not want to be your friend, accept their decision gracefully. They have the right to make that choice and you have to accept it.

#11. Never post when you're overly-tired, jet lagged, intoxicated, angry or upset.

#12. Compose your posts, updates or tweets in a word processing document so you can check grammar and spelling before you send them.

The world of online networking is new to most of us, but there is little difference in connecting with people online and offline. The same basic tenets hold true. Trust and authenticity remain high on the list.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Avoid the Dining Etiquette Faux Pas That Can Cost More Than Your Meal

Well, you might ask yourself what is the relevance of understanding the silent service code? Did you know that most business deals are made while sharing a meal? How often do you have a business encounter with a potential employer or a prospective client?

Not only do you have to be dressed appropriately for the occasion, which entails an entirely different set of guidelines, but it is best that you brush up on the ins and outs of proper table manners or otherwise known as dining etiquette skills.

We all like a tool to help us remember the tricky things in life (like, i before e except after c). Here are 10 tips to help you make sure your lasting impression is one you can feel confident in for years to come.

First: Think of the letters "BMW" when sitting down to a formal place setting. The great thing about this tool is that you can do it silently in your head and no one, but you know your valuable tool. B stands for bread, which is to the left of your plate; M represents meal, which is in the middle; and W stands for water, which is to the right of the plate.

Second: You always want to follow the host's lead. When the host picks up his or her napkin, place your napkin on your lap with the fold facing toward you. When excusing yourself from the table during the meal, place your napkin in your chair. Please note, the napkin does not go back on the table until the meal is finished.

Third: If you are dining with others that you have not met, be sure to introduce yourself to everyone at your table. If appropriate, try to offer some contributing conversation. Don't let the event end without knowing the names of the person or your right and your left. Not only would it be a shame, it would be rude as well.

Forth: The rule of thumb is to use the utensils that are farthest away from the plate when starting a meal. You'll usually see two forks to the left of the plate (a salad and a dinner fork), and a knife and spoon to the right of the plate. A spoon, fork or both placed above the dinner plate are for dessert. Avoid stirring your coffee with the dessert spoon, a coffee spoon should be provided when coffee is served. If not, you can use your dinner spoon on the right side of the plate.

Fifth: If you prefer to forgo coffee or wine, smile at the waiter and say, "No thank you." The server should remove that stemware from your table. Never under any circumstance turn the coffee cup or any glassware over.

Sixth: You should always follow the host lead at the meal. If there is not an official host, it is proper etiquette to wait until everyone at your table has been served before you start eating. This even goes for buffets. If someone has a special order and says please go ahead, then by all means- go ahead.

Seventh: This is not the time or place to ask for a doggie bag or "to go" plate. Remember you are there for business.

Eighth: Don't butter your bread in the air or tear it with your hands. Do tear off a small piece of bread from your dinner roll, and butter it while it's still on your plate. Lift the small piece of bread to your mouth and eat it. Remember to butter one piece at a time, eat it and then continue with the next piece.

Ninth: Chewing with your mouth open is a big no-no. No one wants to see what you have it your mouth. We can wait to hear what you have to say!

Tenth: Finally, turn off cell phones, pagers and Blackberrys. If you positively need to take a call, excuse yourself from the table and leave the room to take the call. If you think you can text or send an email under the table without being noticed, you're wrong.

There are several ways to make a good first impression. Knowing the proper dining etiquette will allow you to be comfortable when eating with your family or at a formal event. The great news is that with this knowledge you will be a savvy professional allow your best self to come through time and time again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Strategic Business Tips On How To Achieve Civility In Today's Workplace

Today's workplace is very dynamic, sometimes very stressful, and too often not very civil. We certainly observe the lack of civility in the workplace with people calling each other names, engaging in personal attacks on each other, exhibiting rude and disruptive behaviors and the lack of respect for one another or ignorance of how behaviors affect others. I believe there is a real desire for the restoration of civility in the workplace.

Your strategic thinking business coach offers some tips on how to achieve civility in today's workplace.

+ Always respect the value of everyone's time by showing up for meetings prepared and on time.

+ Keep your cell phone turned off or in silent or vibrate mode whenever possible.

+ Use an appropriate volume of speaking when talking in the office, at meetings or on your cell phone.

+ Greet everyone with "hello" and a smile.

+ Avoid multi-tasking when you are talking on the phone or on a conference call.

+ Pay attention in meetings and do not constantly check your personal electronic devices for emails, test messages, etc.

+ Respect someone's request for a "quiet zone" or "do not disturb" time.

+ Say please, thank you and/or I am sorry.

+ Communicate in a professional and courteous manner in all forms and at all times

+ Respect all people, policies, rules and regulations.

+ Take responsibility for one's choices and actions.

+ Accept consequences of one's inappropriate choices and actions.

+ Demonstrate acceptable etiquette and manners.

Etiquette, Part Two

How to write an Invitation:

Dr. Joyce Knudsen (If both people in a relationship are Doctors, you would address them as Drs. Knudsen. (Host Name.) Requests the pleasure of your company (invitation phrase) at a dinner (type of party) in honor of Sharon Williams (who the party is for.) on Saturday, the second of July (day two thousand six (year) at eight o'clock (time) 2711 Sumnar Road. (location) RSVP Rpondez s'il vous plat("reply, please") Formal Attire (special -000-0000 (where to reply) instructions)

In a perfect world, your invitation should arrive three to four weeks prior to a lunch, dinner, or party. If the invitation is for an event lasting longer than a day, you should allow six months, especially if hotel and travel reservations need to be made. When replying to an invitation, you should respond as requested within a week (in our example, by calling the number listed) Sometimes, the invitation will include a response card which you will mail back to the host within a weeks time. If you cannot attend, it is customary to include an explanation. You don't have to give details, but simply write, "I'm sorry that a previous engagement will prevent us from joining your luncheon. Thank you for thinking of us." If you accept an invitation and at the last minute find that you are unable to attend, you must inform your host. If your conflict occurs on the day of and you can't reach your host at the number listed on the invitation, you should call the restaurant and have the maitre d' deliver your apology.

Thank you letters: Dear Sue, Thank you so much for dinner last night. Your table looked beautiful with the flowers from your garden. It was such a pleasure to meet your guest from France, John Patton. Your meal was as satisfying as the conversation. Sincerely, Mark and Ann Newsome Your thank you should be handwritten and mailed within 24 hours of the eventThree or four lines are all you need. Thank you letters are sent when you have attended a luncheon, dinner, party or other event. They are also appropriate when you have received a favor, gift or had an interview.

When you are the host: Careful planning is essential for a successful dining experience. Many fine restaurants offer assistance with event planning. Until you become very experienced with planning dining events, it is suggested you use this expertise.

Luncheons: Make sure you know the restaurant or have had a trusted individual suggest it. Some finer establishments will take reservations over the lunch hour, but most others will not. If possible, book your luncheon before or after the rush. Check with your chosen restaurant for rush hour periods. Once you have chosen a site and time. Send your invitations. If informal, it is acceptable to invite by phone as far ahead as possible to give invitees time to arrange their schedule. Arrive at least ten minutes early to make sure everything is set. You will be paying for the meal, so you can leave your credit card with the maitre d' and instruct them to include a 20% tip in the final bill. When the bill comes to your table, all you have to do is sign it and take your card and your copy. Leave your coat with coat check and either wait for your party in the lobby or at your table. If you wait at your table, be sure to maintain its set up. Do not "move in." You should not eat or drink until your guests arrive. Your site is your home away from home. You would not invite guests into your home to an unkempt dining table. Give the guest of honor the choice seat which is usually facing into the crowd away from swinging doors and heavy traffic areas. You will take the least desirable position at the table. You will set the tone for the event by your actions. Your guests will follow your lead. You might suggest specials that the restaurant is know for. You will always start the order. It is not appropriate to have alcohol at a business lunch. Once everyone has ordered, small talk begins and continues through the main course. A guest should tell you if something needs attention. You should then communicate their concerns/requests to the wait staff. You will start the business discussion once the plates are cleared. If a guest starts talking business, suggest that you wait until everyone has enjoyed their lunch. You may walk your guests to their cars afterwards. If in a mixed crowd, the entire group might accompany the ladies to their cars first. If you have a complaint, you will write a complaint letter to the manager. (Be sure to get their card before leaving the restaurant.)

DINING: Whether in your home or out, the host and co-host will sit at each end of the table with the most honored guest to the hosts right. Their spouse will sit to the right of the co-host. The next honored guest will sit to the left of the host and their spouse to the left of the co-host. It is desirable to have a mixed seating arrangement rather than all men and women together. Separate spouses to give others an opportunity to converse with them. If you are entertaining friends, seat them next to those you know they will enjoy conversing with. If you are dining outside your home, you as the host will pay for the meal and lead in the ordering. After everyone has placed their dinner orders, you may choose to order a bottle of wine. Ask for the sommelier if one is available or your waiter. Once the wine is brought to you, the bottle will be shown to you. You nod your acceptance. The bottle will be opened and the cork presented to you.

DO NOT SMELL IT. It smells like cork. Very little else can be told by smelli What you want to note is if the cork is spongy. If it is dry, the wine has not been stored properly and you may have wine vinegar in your bottle. Ask for another bottle in this case. Once you determine the cork us uniformly moist, nod to the server. They will pour you a sip and after swirling your glass to open its bouquet, sip it while quietly sucking in a good amount of air so you can both smell and taste the wine. If it is acceptable, again nod to your server and they will serve your guests, then you. If you want to make a toast, you may do so at this time or wait until dinner is over.

As the meal proceeds, rolls may be brought. You will pass the basket to the guest on your right; take one for yourself before passing it to the guest on your left. They will continue passing the basket until the last person serves themselves and puts the basket on the table. You will pass the butter in the same manner. If there are other items that will be passed around the table, you will always pass to your right so your guest can accept the container with their left hand, leaving their right hand free to serve themselves. If the container is heavy, you may want to assist them until they have served themselves. Make sure the serving utensil handle is facing them. Wait staff will serve guests on their left side as well for the same reason. Salt and pepper are always passed together. If something is out of your reach, ask the person nearest the item to pass it to you. You may eat in the American style or the Continental style when in America. Try eating in the Continental style, when in another country. It is really the most silent and practical way to dine. (It is thought that when the first people came to America from Europe, they changed the style to reflect independence.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

5 Tips to Remember When You Work in a Family Business

Your success is directly related to your contacts, relationships and ability to communicate effectively. The measure of your achievements, and disappointments are directly related to your relationships.

o Are you the kind of person you would want to work for?
o How do your relationships affect your business?
o How does your business affect your relationships?

As an experienced family business coach I can attest to the fact that business 'and relationships are strongly connected. Without healthy boundaries in a family business, your relationships will suffer. I suggest to clients that there must be a time to work and a time to be a family.

A family business coach can help you develop a plan that will be custom tailored for your unique situation. Good communication, comfortable working conditions and respect for one another is a winning threesome for any business. Mixing family and business can lead to disaster without boundaries.

1. Communication, Communication, Communication
2. Be respectful of one another and refrain from a shouting match
3. Create guidelines for the business meetings and remember there is no excuse for lack of business etiquette.
4. Set clear boundaries between family time and business time.
5. Roles need to be clearly defined.

When someone first walks into your office they immediately pick up on the positive or negative energy. You want the positive energy flowing, comfortable for the employees, clients and business associates. It is always helpful in a business to be cognizant of your workers needs. (i.e. child care, doctor appointments, family issues) This is no different in a family owned business as it is in a corporation.

An Introduction to International Business Cultures - Asia

Students who've completed a foreign policy or international business program of study might be eager to begin working in a foreign country. Perhaps they might be a bit ambivalent or scared, too. After all, the business practices of various nations in Africa, Europe, Asia - and even, North America - can differ vastly from American business customs and etiquette.

Several Asian nations, notably China, Japan, and India, have the potential to dramatically shape the world economy over the next decade. Across Asia, workers highly skilled in computers, engineering, manufacturing, and biological sciences are revolutionizing global methods of innovation, business, and production. It will become more likely over the next decade that a business college graduate will work with professionals from one or more of these Asian nations - especially if that graduate pursues a career path with many international opportunities.

Developing cultural sensitivity and awareness is very important for cross-cultural exchanges. This article will explore some common business basics among people of several different Asian nations, while offering little-known, fun tips and facts.

Building relationships: Chinese, Japanese, and Indian international business

Asian cultures tend to be much more collectivist than Western counterparts. In business decision-making, the group as a whole chooses a course of action. An individual worker's identity is strongly shaped by the group for which he or she works. In American business, conversely, one is much less likely to see collaborative strategies - though the newest generation of American office workers is beginning to change this. International business program graduates who work in China, Japan, or India might wish to develop their group work skills further before heading abroad.

Greeting individuals with a handshake, a slight bow of the head, and eye contact is polite. The firm, authoritative American handshake can be overkill overseas. Touching other professionals is taboo in Asia. Personal space is important; it is not considered polite to stand very close to someone. It is always best to observe the behaviors of your professional associates, and act appropriately.

Expect business to be conducted in a slow, deliberate fashion, and rushed business deals to be regarded as highly suspect. Speak slowly and clearly, and present new ideas cautiously. Aggressive proposals or overly showy body movements will not be interpreted well. Being on time is also essential. Asia is a continent of punctual business professionals, and it makes good sense to be early -- or, at the very least, on time -- to each new business meeting or collaborative opportunity. It also helps to be willing and able to gently negotiate and compromise. Consensus-building trumps maverick ideas in Asian countries.

Building strong business relationships is absolutely paramount in Asian countries, too. American workers abroad are at a disadvantage in this regard, because they will need to overcome cultural barriers to build trust and respect. They will also need to demonstrate their business skills in an honest, but not boastful fashion. Talking less and listening more are always wise moves when meeting a new business colleague. Status and rank are of greater importance in Asia than they are in mostly-egalitarian America, so pay attention to who's who in a company - but, of course, get to know everyone with whom you will be doing business.

Customs for Asian countries

Of course, Asian business cultures will vary in their customs. In Japan, for example, gift-giving is much more acceptable than it is in China - although gift-giving can be an appreciated token if done correctly. Each Asian culture also tends to prefer some ways of greeting professionals over others. Typically, using the last name and the person's professional title (such as 'Dr.') indicates respect. Asian business dress is sometimes more formal than standard American business dress, especially since jeans and t-shirts have become more acceptable in the American post-dot-com age. Navy, black, or grey business suits with conservative ties for men; and dark dress suits or formal, conservative sheath dresses and jackets for women will work well. Business shoes should be dark, polished, and as conservative as possible.

The presentation and reception of business cards is also important in Asia. It is most polite to have your business card printed double-sided, with the Asian language on one side and English on the other. You should offer your business card with the Asian language side facing up. When accepting other business cards, treat them as valuable: Study them carefully to memorize names and information, and never stuff them into your pocket. For your business cards, you might want to consider purchasing a hard case that snaps shut, and which can be tucked discreetly into a briefcase or purse after the card exchange has occurred.

Working abroad can be great fun. Americans can learn much from their Asian professional counterparts, and, by following some simple etiquette guidelines, can enjoy a most enriching cross-cultural experience.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mastering Dining Interview Etiquette

If you have applied for a position recently, don't be surprised if you are asked to meet for a meal and interview. Why would employers take potential employees out to lunch or dinner? Many times it is because the workplace setting can get really hectic, so employers choose to find a more comfortable setting. And, much like the behavioral interview conducted in an office, it provides the perfect setting for an employer to assess a job candidate's social skills and how well they handle themselves in pressure situations. The breakfast, lunch, or dinner interview provides the interviewer with a chance to view, first hand, your interpersonal abilities, as well as your dining etiquette, all within a more informal environment.

What You Should Wear

Don't let the fact that you may be going to a less formal setting fool you. You should dress just as you would for an interview within an office. Black, gray, and blue are the preferred colors. Make sure your hands are well manicured and keep your jewelry to a minimum; closed toed shoes for the women, polished dress shoes for the men, minimal jewelry, no tattoos showing. As with any interview, do not chew gum! The location has changed, but you are still interviewing for a job and it's important to make a good impression.

Go Prepared

Make sure you have researched the company and know something about what they do. Take extra copies of your resume and work samples, if available, with you to the interview and keep them in a file or briefcase. Place them out of the way (under the table or under your chair) but within easy access if needed. Turn off your cell phone upon entering the restaurant and keep it off during the entire meal.

Greet the Interviewer with a Firm Handshake

Nothing demonstrates self confidence like a firm handshake whether you are male or female. Shake the interviewer's hand and thank them for the interview opportunity.

Good Manners Count

Saying "Please" and "Thank you" go a long way in making a lasting impression with anyone. Wait to be seated (if you are female, and your interviewer is male, he may pull out your chair for you) and you would then need to say "Thank You". Thank the wait staff when they serve you and make sure that you order items from the menu that aren't messy and complicated to eat (such as ribs, large seafood, pasta with lots of sauce, or large sandwiches). Try to order food that is easy to cut into small portions. Don't order the most expensive item on the menu. If in doubt as to what to order, ask your interviewer if they have a suggestion as to what might be good to order. After ordering, and before the food is served, listen carefully to what is being said and let your interviewer set the tone for the conversation. Sit up straight, keep your elbows off the table, and eat slowly.

Know the Table Setting

The bread plate, typically with a butter knife, will be placed to the top left of the dinner plate, at approximately 11 o'clock, if the dinner plate was the face of a clock. Next the coffee cup is placed to the right of the dinner plate at 1 o'clock. Then comes the water glass (this can be placed before a white wine and/or red wine glass), to the top left of the coffee cup, at 1 o'clock of the cup. From left to right of the dinner plate in order are: the salad fork, dinner fork, followed by the dessert fork (which may be placed horizontally at the 12 o'clock position above the dinner plate in some restaurants). The dinner plate, with salad, or soup bowl on it are next. To the left of the dinner plate are the knife, teaspoon (for tea or coffee), and the soup spoon. The placement of the napkin varies with different restaurants. Wait until everyone has been seated at the table and then carefully take the napkin and place in your lap. When the meal is served, eat from the outside of the plate in. Resist the urge to "clean your plate" even if you are ravenously hungry. Keep your drinks to the right of your plate at all times. Leave a small bite or two on the plate.

Participate in the Conversation

Just as in a regular in-office interview, you should be actively participating in the conversation and respond to questions just as you have in a mock interview. Because you are in a more relaxed atmosphere, be careful not to say too much. Let your interviewer finish a statement before you start one. Three sentences to answer a question are more than adequate. Hopefully, you practiced responding to behavioral questions in your mock interviews so you will be prepared for any tricky questions that might be asked. Remember, that you want to demonstrate to the employer how you are going to fit into their organization so gear your answers in that direction. Remember that after the meal has been served, don't talk with food in your mouth... If you need to leave the table during the meal for any reason, place your napkin in your chair seat or on a chair arm, if available.

Should you drink during the interview?

If you don't drink, just say "I believe I would just like a glass of water or tea". Even if you do drink, it is perfectly acceptable to decline a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage. If you feel you must drink because your interviewer is having a drink, then limit yourself to one drink and sip it very slowly to reduce the urge by either you or your interviewer for a second drink and to remain focused and on track during the interview.

After The Meal

Once you have finished your meal, move your knife and fork to the four o'clock position to let the server know that you have finished your meal. If you have no further use for your napkin, you can partially fold it and place it on the dinner plate over the knife and fork. Do not drape the napkin entirely over the plate, as this is considered rude and tasteless to many persons. Let the employer take care of the check and the tip for the meal.

Another Thank You is in Order

A final thank you to the employer followed by another firm handshake completes the interview. If you haven't been offered a business card, then ask for one. You should consider sending a follow-up thank you to the employer (but remember that it must be sent not more than 24 hours after your meal). Reiterate how appreciative you are of the opportunity to interview and to be considered for the position.

7 Rules of Twitter Etiquette

Twitter is thought of as a very causal forum. It's limited to just 140 characters, leading many users to adopt their own brand of shorthand in order to get their entire thought out into one tweet. Whether you are tweeting as your business or tweeting as yourself, it is still important to follow certain sets of guidelines in order to keep the respect of your followers on the social network.

Knowing the proper Twitter etiquette will save you a lot of embarrassment in the long run. Here are seven rules that you should always follow before you send out your message into the twitterverse:

Your tweet needs to offer value

When you take the time to tweet something, always ask yourself, "Is this something my followers will find valuable?" If you are sending empty-headed thoughts out there, you are not giving them anything of worth to hold onto or pass along to others.

Sure, once upon a time Twitter was the go-to spot for people to tell everyone that they were "chowing down on a #donut" or some other senseless statement. But Twitter has come so far since then, so please don't start dragging it back to those dark days.

Hashtags have limits

#How#Annoying#Is#It#When#You#See#This? People do not want to read a tweet that is composed entirely of hashtags. This point goes right back to the previous point of offering value. Your followers want to read something funny/useful/informative. Try to only include one or two hashtags in your tweets so that people can actually read what you are trying to say.

Follow-backs are not a requirement

Right after you set up your account, you were probably so grateful to get a follower that you felt like it was only polite to follow them right back. This isn't always necessary. If the person who has started following you is influential in the industry or often comments and retweets your posts, then that is a valuable person to add to your lists.

Add your own thoughts to headlines and links

You don't want to be the user whose timeline is filled with nothing but links to articles that you like or find relevant to your business. That can get old with your followers pretty quickly. If you want to share something, always be sure to include a few lines about what you think of it or pull out a meaningful quote that will entice followers to click on it.

Who you follow says a lot about you

They say that the people you associate with are a direct reflection of who you are. The same applies to the people you follow on Twitter. People will look at which users you are following when they are checking out your profile. It helps them decide whether you are truly someone that will be valuable to follow. If you are using Twitter for your business, then you want to be following people who are in the same industry. Potential customers want to know that you are a serious leader in your industry and the people you follow will reflect that.

If you really have a need to follow all of your favorite comedians and C-list celebrities, then consider creating a separate account that gives you the freedom to follow whoever you want without upsetting your professional-minded followers.

Don't get set on autopilot

There are still some users who set up an automatic direct message to go out to anyone that starts following them. It's always the generic "Thanks for following! Can't wait to start connecting!" The truth is that people don't need this message. They can see that it's an automatic message and won't find it valuable.

Try not to set all of your tweeting on autopilot either. There are always instances where it is necessary- you're going to be out of the office for the next week, etc.- but try to make sure your tweets still sound like they are coming straight from you and not robotic.

Don't be negative

Having an opinion and voicing it is okay, but don't turn into a mega-critic about every topic that arises in the media. Don't bash celebrities, politicians, athletes, or everyday people like your customers. Instead, focus on being upbeat and pass along positive messages.

Twitter is still a valuable platform for businesses, and there are still rules of etiquette that should be followed if you want to be a go-to resource on the social network. Have you broken any of the rules to Twitter etiquette?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Five Tips For Engaging in Networking Etiquette

I have long enjoyed attending networking events for the opportunity to meet new people and benefit from information provided by the speakers. However, taking into consideration frugality in relation to costs and benefits, I have had occasion to wonder whether attending such events truly benefited me. Were the meeting fee and dues worth the expenditure in my precious time and money? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. The success of the event depends on whether or not it is set up to maximize networking opportunities and the extent to which its attendees observe basic networking etiquette. Following are five tips that will help you get the most out of a networking event:

1) Build and cultivate relationships

The most important thing to keep in mind about networking is that it is synonymous with relationship building: establishing, cultivating, growing, and maintaining relationships. I don't know about you, but for me, networking is not sticking one's business card into my hand and saying "call me." This has happened to me more times than I care to remember. Those cards-if I take them at all-usually end up getting trashed because the person didn't take the opportunity to get to know me as a person or give me the chance to assess his or her sincerity by offering a simple: "What is your name? " "What is the nature of your business?" "How long have you been in business?" "What product or service does your business provide?" "How may I potentially be of assistance to you?"

Be sociable. Don't overdo it, yet don't be unsociable. Be yourself: natural, easy to talk to. Don't try too hard. Make eye contact. Shake the hand of new acquaintances firmly, neither shaking it limply nor squeezing it.

2) Generate targeted title/introduction

If you have multiple titles, think carefully about how you wish to be presented to the audience. I am an Author, Speaker, Instructor and Consultant. I generally request the "Author" title on my name badges because I purposely and intentionally wish to be asked what is the name of my book. Identifying myself as President of Rolling Enterprises, Inc., may not be as targeted and effective, as people will naturally inquire "What's that?" In that case, I'd better be prepared to have my succinct elevator pitch ready. Other times, I wish to emphasize the fact that I am a Financial Literacy Instructor. Assess each scenario on a case-by-case basis and do what best suits your circumstance.

3) Gather information

While profitability is the bottom line, networking isn't only about getting business; it's about exchanging information-gathering intelligence and, of course, making a sale. Information-sharing clubs, for example, share useful tips with one another. Such information may be useful in some way, shape, or form for your business. Do you know that sometimes an informational tip or a resource that I have received was just as valuable to me as making a sale?

4) Follow-up properly

If you do not feel you can follow up or deliver, then it's probably better to not make promises on the spot, particularly if you're interfacing with someone who follows up with due diligence. It is not fair to put him/her in a position to track you down, thereby making him/her out to be a pest. Likewise, determine how many times you are going to call or e-mail in order to follow-up with a prospect or referral.

5) Send a thank you note

Once a lead has been generated as a result of networking, be sure to thank the referrer. Believe it or not, even in this day and age of the Internet and the plethora of other wireless forms of communication like text-messaging, a hand-written thank you note is not out of style. You never know where it may lead.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

After Graduate School: Professional Etiquette

How is Professional Etiquette in the Workplace different than in Graduate School?

If you've just landed your first position after graduate school, you might be unsure of how exactly to behave in the professional world. However, you've probably already mastered most of these behaviors while you were in graduate school. In general, it's a good idea to act as you did in your interview until you get a feel for your coworkers and your office environment. After a few months, you will fit right in and know what is allowed by your superiors. Emulate a coworker who has found favor with your management, and avoid reflecting any behaviors that offend you or your boss. The most important things to consider in regards to professional etiquette are courtesy to others, confidence in yourself, and general politeness.

Tips on Professional Etiquette in the Workplace:


Intently listen to others when you are speaking to someone at work. Look them in the eye, and don't constantly look away or fidget with anything. Keep a steady and clear voice with a pleasant tone. Consider who the other person is before you engage in topics besides work. Be aware of body language to know if you are talking about something your coworker doesn't care about! If you are talking to a superior, make sure you stay short and to the point. If you are talking on the phone, avoid anything that anyone might find distracting or offensive.

Introductions and Handshakes

When shaking hands with a boss or a new acquaintance, be firm but not aggressive or crushing. A comfortable duration is a few seconds. Look the other person in the eye and avoid using two hands or patting them on the back at the same time, which can be too invasive for some people. When meeting someone, make sure you are standing, and repeat the person's name immediately after he or she says it. You could offer a kind word about looking forward to working with him or her or welcoming him or her to the company.

Vacations and Lunches

Again, it's a good idea to get a good feel for the business and your coworkers' before considering time off. Get to know how everyone reacts when someone takes a two-hour lunch, especially learning your management's opinion about such things. Establish what is acceptable on your first day of work. Always let your boss know at least a week ahead if you plan on taking a half day off for a dentist appointment or a similar scheduled necessity. You should know your employer's policy regarding paid and unpaid days off. However, before you take a day off, make sure to talk with your supervisor about whether it will be paid and about how it will affect your remaining days off for the year.


Every employer has a clear dress code policy, so go over this thoroughly before your first day of work. Keep in mind comfort and presentation while you are shopping for your new work clothes. You probably already gained a good idea about how others dress when you went in to interview. Remember to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Make sure you always wear something you wouldn't be ashamed of if you saw your CEO. Look professional, but avoid anything too casual or revealing.

Internet and Emails

Keep in mind that many employers have a right to monitor what their employees do online and may even read your email correspondences. Therefore, never do something that you would be ashamed for everyone in your workplace to see. In terms of email communication, stay professional by using appropriate salutations of Dear (name) or Hi (name). Also, end your emails appropriately by including your name and contact information. Keep everything short and to the point, and avoid nonwork topics.


Always coming to work on time is a must. You should consistently follow the time requirements you discussed with the hiring personnel; establish appropriate times of work with a superior if you have not done this already. Keep a comfortable distance between yourself and coworkers in meetings and conversations. Be considerate if you are a smoker, and look up your employer's policies toward smoking breaks and areas. Spend little to no outside time doing personal things, especially if you have just started your first corporate position. In general, be professional, and let your actions show your superiors that you deserve a promotion or a higher salary. Whether you work in academia or industry, do not be that coworker about whom everyone complains and laughs whenever you leave the room!

Keeping these professional etiquette tips in mind when starting your new position may put you on the right track for success!

E-Etiquette - Minding Your Email Manners

E-mail has been called "the kudzu of communications." In no time at all, it can overwhelm your mailbox and eat up your productive work time. Technology and the click culture have created speed and ease in communications, and even a special shorthand: "R U cming 2nite?" But the fallout is a sense of impersonality that breeds rudeness. You've got to think twice - even three times! - about your business emails, because they make statements about your professionalism.

Here are some guidelines for some common e-pet peeves that could make your e-mail more productive, professional, and a pleasure to read.

Always include a specific subject line. This is helpful not only for your receiver to know what your message is about, but it also makes it easy to search for that particular message later. 

Be brief, but personable. One of the problems with email is that senders tend to write "off the cuff," exactly what they're thinking: "Your report is due today and I haven't received it." This succinctness can come across as curt and rude. You could spend a little more time with it and make it warmer and friendlier: "As you know, Tom, your report is due today. Will you have it to me by the end of the day? If you're having any problems with it, please let me know how I can help you."

Give your response some context when replying to an e-mail, especially if some time has passed since you initially received it. A response that has absolutely no context to it - "Yes." or "That's a great idea." -- can be confounding when I, the original sender, have long forgotten the original question because I've since dealt with dozens or even hundreds of other e-mails. It can waste a lot of my time as I research my Sent messages to find out the issue you're referring to. So copy the sender's text that's relevant and reply below it.

Think through "reply to all." When you receive a group distribution e-mail and a reply is called for, think carefully about whether you should reply just to the sender or "reply to all." If your response is truly designed for just the sender, please don't add to other people's e-mail boxes with a "reply to all." On the other hand, if your response is relevant to all the others on the distribution, please don't reply just to the sender, forcing him to then have to forward your response back to the rest of the group.

Treat your message like a mini letter. Use the recipient's name, and end with yours.

Include a signature tag. This is particularly helpful for messages that go outside your company. Include at least your name and phone number(s), if not also your address, so you make it easy for someone to contact you in ways other than e-mail.

Use emoticons - the symbols that convey a happy face :-), frowning face :-(, laughter :-0, winking ;-), etc. - sparingly. They can be helpful to insure that humor or sarcasm is not interpreted as criticism, but you want to avoid being "cutesy."

Never send a message you wouldn't want made public. E-mail is not private. Whether it's deliberate or not, forwarding a message is as easy as a click of a button, so be careful what you say in cyberspace.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Etiquette in China - A Quick Guide for Western Men Interested in Chinese Women

This is intended only as a primer on the very basics of etiquette in China, and it's decidedly slanted to a Western Male's point of view. With a little luck, when you arrive in China this will help you avoid severely embarrassing yourself, but trust me - you'll make many faux pas, and most of the time you'll be completely unaware that you've done so because it is not like the Chinese to point out to you any errors you've made. To do so would cause you to lose face, and the Chinese are very concerned neither to lose face themselves, nor to cause loss of face to others. Chinese Women will be particularly forgiving of your rude Western ways.

Before moving on to specific areas of etiquette, here are some generalizations:

1. There are many different "cultures" in China (55 or 56 depending on what book you read) and many variations on specific areas of etiquette, but if your behaviour on any matter is acceptable to most of the Chinese cultures the others will forgive you if it varies from theirs. The other side of that coin is that you shouldn't expect a Chinese woman who is a farm girl from Hunan to practice the same etiquette as a debutante from Shanghai.

2. Chinese Ladies know you're from a different culture and don't expect you to behave exactly as a Chinese man would. In fact they're frequently fascinated by the differences between you and themselves and want to know more. In order to actually offend most Chinese girls you'll have to commit an error in etiquette that is either grossly ignorant or obviously intentional.

3. Chinese women and Chinese people in general greatly appreciate it when you're obviously attempting to understand and follow their cultural norms, and especially when you clearly respect and even enjoy their way of doing things. Just a little evidence that you are "trying" will go a long, long way.

4. Chinese culture dates back 5,000 years or more, and the Chinese are justifiably proud of that, so don't get involved in little contests over whose cultural practices are "correct". You are a guest in their country so their moors of etiquette are correct by default. If you want to appreciate and enjoy your Chinese Lady's companionship, always try to view her through her cultural norms, not your own. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong at all in pointing out that "in America (or Britain, Australia, etc.) we don't do it that way" if you're clearly doing so to explain or excuse your error, not as criticism of their standards. In fact this will generally be a great conversation starter.

5. China is rapidly changing these days, and something that was universally acceptable just 5 years ago may now be generally frowned upon; for example spitting in public used to be the norm, but is now being discouraged everywhere due to the accompanying health threats that have been recently recognized. However, just as in any other country the new etiquette code on this matter is being picked up far faster in the larger, more economically advanced cities than in rural China.

6. Whatever is stated below will prove to be entirely wrong somewhere in China with some Chinese people.

Now, on to some specifics (in no particular order):


Chinese men, especially in the larger cities and when they can afford it, tend to dress more formally than we do. When you walk down a city street in China almost every male will be wearing at least dress pants and a good shirt with both collar and cuffs. Blue jeans, baggy shorts and wrinkled cotton shirts are almost exclusively the domain of the Western males. You will be forgiven but not often emulated.

Chinese women also dress to a higher standard, and usually take great care of their appearance. Of course there is a poor class that simply can't afford good clothes, but any Chinese woman with any resources at all will be wearing fashionable clothing and looking her best.


Get used to being stared at in China. You are different and unusual. There are 1.3 billion Chinese living in China, and only about 100,000 foreigners (according to the People's Daily newspaper in 2005), and likely well over 50% of those foreigners are of Asian descent. So for each obviously foreign person living in China there are 26,000 Chinese (1,300,000,000 Chinese / 50,000 non-Asian foreigners). You are very different.

Seen another way, in many of the rural areas of China they've never seen a white person, and even in the major cities, on any given busy city street, there will be more people visiting from those rural areas than there are white people. So, during much of the time during your stay in China, you'll be within sight of someone who has never seen a white person before. If you're of African heritage, you may have to hide in your own bathroom to avoid being in the presence of someone who has never seen anyone like you before. Like I said, get used to being stared at.

More importantly, especially for those same rural Chinese, staring is not considered rude. Once you realize that they are not being aggressive, just curious, you will get more comfortable with endlessly being looked at. For confirmation that they're not being aggressive, try staring back directly at their eyes. You'll soon notice that it takes them a long time to realize you're looking at them because they are not looking at your eyes, which they would be doing if their intentions were aggressive. Once they see you looking at them they'll quickly look away (wondering why some foreigner is so aggressively staring at them).

One caveat on the above point about a Chinese person staring at you not being aggressive is when you are in the obviously romantic presence of a Chinese lady, in which case the stares from surrounding Chinese men may well be angry and aggressive. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China the male population is 51.53% of the whole and the female is 48.47%. Add to that the fact that the rich Chinese guys may have as many as 10 girlfriends and you have a fairly serious shortage of ladies to go around in China. No surprise then that some Chinese men aren't so happy to see you taking one more attractive prospect out of the running.

Queues (Lineups)

Forget it. There is no way for a Westerner to understand the Chinese reaction to a queue, which seems to be that it represents an opportunity to get ahead of other people by leaping to the head of the queue (sometimes without even knowing or caring what they will find when they get there).

After inevitably standing in line in one or more of a thousand places (my own favourite is the lineup to get your vegetables weighed and priced at the food market where even the tiniest Chinese female will be particularly adept at bypassing everyone in front of her as if they don't exist) and watching every Chinese person who comes along jump in front of you, you'll eventually become a practised queue jumper yourself. And, since you're likely bigger than almost all of your Chinese opponents in this contest, you'll have a decided advantage. Of course, you'll also be seen as an ugly and aggressive foreigner, but this is the one instance when you are to be forgiven for that (at least by this Writer, if not by the Chinese).

Public Displays of Affection (Male with Female)

Traditionally the Chinese have been very loathe to accept men and women demonstrating love or affection in public through kissing, hugging or holding hands. Lately, especially among younger people, you will occasionally see the holding of hands or light and very brief kisses. Anything beyond that will still lead to the conclusion by the viewing public that the woman is a prostitute and the man is a drunken lowlife (especially if the man is a foreigner).

Public Displays of Affection (Male with Male)

Unfortunately, from a Western male's point of view at least, public display of affection between two men is entirely acceptable in China. In nightclubs it's common for 2 or more men to dance together, on the street they often will walk arm in arm or hand in hand, and on the subway I've watched one man rubbing his buddy's knee for the duration of a 30 minute ride, and none of that is an indication in anyway of anything beyond mere friendship. For us homophobic North Americans (and I'm guessing Brits, Aussies and KiWis as well) it's an uncomfortable experience, but for the Chinese it is perfectly normal and acceptable.

Public Displays of Affection (Female with Female)

The good news, from a Western male's point of view at least, is that public displays of affection between women is not merely acceptable but is commonplace in China. Chinese women are constantly walking arm in arm, holding hands, walking while tightly hugging, dancing together as if they are Latin lovers, falling asleep in each other's arms, and even kissing each other. Give them a couple of drinks and suddenly they might even feel a need to touch each other's breasts (purely out of curiosity, not lust). While the Chinese girls engaging in this activity are being completely innocent (or are they?), to the Western male it's an ongoing trigger of one of our most enduring fantasies.

Basic Greetings

In formal or semi-formal settings, such as business meetings, Chinese when meeting you for the first time will likely greet you with a slight bow or nod, but handshakes are becoming more acceptable and common, and in most cases, after returning the nod a follow up handshake is likely also in order. However, traditionally, touching someone you are not familiar with is not acceptable, so you may want to avoid pushing the handshake with an elderly or less urban or cosmopolitan Chinese person. Don't touch anyone's head!!!!

Generally, unless there is an obvious power structure in a particular group it is appropriate to greet the elder person first, working your way down the age ladder.

Coming soon: "Dining Etiquette in China" and "Driving Etiquette (or Lack Thereof) in China".