When paying the bill for a business event, never have your money strewn about.
We’ve all made them, and they can be costly, not only to your reputation but to your bottom line. To avoid mistakes in the future, here are some important rules to follow in the business world:
- Don’t be late. When I was growing up my nickname was “Last-Minute Lisa.” There’s no excuse today with Siri and Alexa as your 24/7 personal assistants. If you tend to run late, set your alarm early with reminders.
- Don’t shake hands like a wimp. Women may still not be equal to men in the business world, but in the business of shaking hands, we are just that. Whatever your gender, shake hands with a firm grip and make good eye contact.
- Don’t dress inappropriately. Avoid a low-cut cocktail dress or a short-short skirt to work, even if you’re going to a party after hours. And don’t dress for work or an interview as if you’re going on a weekend hike. Even casual Fridays have rules. Find out what they are and follow them.
- Don’t overindulge in food or alcohol at a business lunch or dinner. If you can’t control your alcohol intake, don’t drink at all. The last thing you want is to appear inebriated in front of colleagues. The same rule applies to food. You can always stop at In-N-Out burger on the way home.
- Don’t order tricky foods at a business breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This is not the time to order a whole fish or tomato soup, which can stain your blouse or necktie. Stick with the tried and true: omelets, grilled meats, and most vegetables are a safe choice.
- Don’t go to an interview without researching the company and the position you’re applying for. Google makes preparing for an interview so easy. You should have no fewer than 100 pages of information to review.
- Don’t leave your cell phone on during a business meeting or an interview. Once, when my former boss was conducting an interview, the interviewee’s cell went off. She sarcastically asked if he’d like to take the call. He didn’t get the hint that leaving his phone on was inappropriate, and that was the end of him. To be on the safe side, turn your phone off completely. I’ve noticed that even when my phone is on vibrate, Siri can still be activated and there’s no way to shut her up other than to turn her off.
- Don’t joke or babble during an interview. This shows nervousness. The “pregnant pause” is A-OK and shows confidence and attentiveness.
- Don’t trash your current or former boss during an interview. Even if you had a nasty split with your last employer, practice ahead of time saying only kind things. And don’t orget to smile!
- Don’t squirm or fidget during an interview or business meeting. It’s normal to be nervous in an interview or a meeting. Breathe deeply and ground yourself by placing both feet firmly on the floor.
- Don’t avoid eye contact during an interview or a business meeting. Eye contact shows power and confidence. But avoid the blank stare; it’s rude and uncomfortable for everyone.
- Don’t hand out soiled or creased business cards. If you keep your cards in your wallet, place a creased one on the outside, which will protect the clean cards. But a business card holder is a much better option to keep cards fresh. Replenish your cards frequently, including before social events; you never know when you’ll want to network.
- Don’t email your thank-you notes. If you wish to be remembered, send a handwritten note. It takes just a few minutes to write three lines, add a stamp, and drop it in the mail. (The difficult part these days is finding a mailbox to drop it in.)