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Business Etiquette

Displaying appropriate business etiquette can often make the difference between whether a client will hire you, whether others want to work with you, or whether your boss chooses to put you on an important project, or considers you for a raise or a promotion.

General Business Meeting Etiquette Tips

According to Emily Post, there are 10 things you must do during business meetings to affect how you are perceived by others:

  • Be on time. Nothing is more irksome than sitting around waiting for somebody. Show respect for other people's time.
  • Bring your business cards. You can use them to introduce yourself and leave the other person with the information to contact you easily.
  • Be prepared. Know what will be discussed at the meeting, and be prepared to contribute meaningfully.
  • Silence your smartphone. No brainer. And don't keep checking it during the meeting either.
  • Have a positive attitude. Emily Post notes that this not only includes what you say, but also your body language. Do you look engaged and interested in what is going on? Did you smile when you introduced yourself?
  • Be a good listener and active participant. Hear what people are saying and don't interrupt. Provide your insights as well. Sitting silently without anything to contribute will convey to other you are disinterested or don't have any contributions to make.
  • Don't eat during meetings. If no one else is eating, this can be incredibly distracting. Eat something before you get to the meeting.
  • Avoid nervous habits. Again, very distracting.
  • Follow through on your assigned action items. Let people know they can count on you by completing what you say you will do.
  • Say thank-you. Small gestures go along way, whether it's simply saying thank-you for taking the time to meet, or sending a handwritten thank-you note to a potential client following up on the meeting.


Business Meal Etiquette Tips

There will be times that business and food will come together. How do you handle eating while at a business meal?

"The dining table is a great stage from which to share your personal side and demonstrate the respect that you hold for your client or prospect. It is a moment when you can display your proper attention to etiquette, protocol, manners, and a myriad of details that can set you apart and distinguish you from the competition," says Judith Bowman, author of Don't Take the Last Donut: New Rules of Business Etiquette.

The dining table is also a place for etiquette mishaps, so make sure to follow Bowman's tips for business meal etiquette so that you don't compromise a business opportunity. Her etiquette tips include:

  • Order items that are easy to eat (not ribs, lobster, etc.)
  • Eat a hamburger like a sandwich. Be sure to cut it in half.
  • Do not dunk donuts in coffee.
  • For bread and butter, break your roll into small pieces and butter them one at a time over your bread and butter plate with your own knife
  • Don't wear a napkin around your neck. That is for children.
  • Always pass the salt and pepper together. Do not just pass one or the other.
  • If your food is bad, try to eat it anyway: sending it back is not recommended in a business meal setting.


Opportunities arise all the time to make a good impression. Sometimes it's the little things that can make all the difference!

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