Archive for October, 2010
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
When you hear the term “professional image,” do you think about how an individual looks and behaves? What about the professional image of a company or organization? Does your company or organization have a good professional image?
Here are 8 tips to keep your company’s professional image at its highest level:
1. Maintain regular office hours: Most for-profit businesses maintain set business hours, typically Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yet when it comes to non-profit organizations, especially when staff and volunteers are lacking, office hours can be erratic. Establish regular hours so your clients, customers, members and most importantly donors will know the best times to reach you, even if you are open only two or three days a week or have limited hours. State them clearly on your voicemail greeting and on your web site.
2. Return all messages received within 24 to 48 hours. Designate one person to monitor emails and voicemails and to return each message within 24 to 48 hours. This way the person will know you care about being responsive in a consistent manner. When an individual is away or the office is closed, attach an auto-reply to your email and change your voicemail greeting to alert callers about when you will be back for return calls. Never leave callers hanging as to when they may ever hear from you!
3. Use well-designed letterhead and other printed and online messaging, and write a note or letter correctly: Care enough about your organization’s image when it comes to the stationery and online presence you create. Even more than your personal appearance, websites and printed materials are seen and read over and over again.
— A web site today is a must. You might as well forget opening up shop if you don’t have one. It’s best always to use a professional web designer, but at minimum use a pre-existing design template. A do-it-yourself website is immediately recognizable as such and presents an amateurish and unprofessional image.
– Do not send letters that are improperly folded and appear crooked. It implies sloppiness.
— When a letter is only a few sentences long, do not have it appear at the top of the sheet. Instead, lower the content to be centered on the page.
— Use time-honored letter writing skills when addressing a letter or email. Improper punctuation, such as using a comma instead of a colon following “Dear Mr. Smith,” will show your level of education and professionalism. Knowing how to send letters and emails using a few basic skills will go a long way in presenting a great professional image.
4. Use documented processes rather than reinventing the wheel: One of the worst things I see often is how an organization keeps doing the same thing over and over again as though it was a new idea, mainly because the organization didn’t keep notes on past work. Maintain a dedicated journal of meeting minutes and events, describing what went well, what needed improving, and new ideas to consider in the future. Especially for special events, keep historical copies of all items used for each event. Then, as staff and volunteers are replaced, or you hire an event planner, these documents will become the most helpful training tool to help learn what to incorporate as best practices and what mistakes not to repeat.
5. Organize and rehearse for meetings and special events: It’s important to respect everyone’s time, no matter if they’re staff, vendors, clients, volunteers or board members for non-profit organizations. One of the most irritating situations (which once caused me to resign from a non-profit board) is the inability of the chair and/or meeting facilitator to properly plan and run a meeting. At minimum, always have an agenda and distribute it ahead of time so everyone will know what will be discussed and how best they might contribute to the discussions. During the meeting, facilitators must show authority in keeping discussions on point and on time. Distribute the minutes of the meeting as soon as possible to help keep those people who were unable to attend in the loop, and to know what may be expected of them before the next meeting.
When it comes to special events that showcase your company, organization and business, make every effort to make a lasting impression. Plan and script out every detail for from the time guests enter the event to the time they leave. Hold at least one rehearsal and walk-through with the event staff to address all situations that might arise. Put yourself in the guest’s position by thinking through how you would like to be treated from start to finish. One event may make the difference between gaining or losing a potential client, customer, donor or member of your organization.
6. Never use, “We’re just a non-profit organization” as an excuse. What a cop-out! I even hear, “We’re just a small business” which is equally offensive. Does this truly mean people cannot expect professionalism from a non-profit or small business? Please.
7. Wear appropriate business and event attire. It does matter how you look when you appear in the office or attend meetings and events. There is something uplifting whenever I see everyone in an office dressed nicely and displaying good grooming habits. By this I mean no sloppy hair with dandruff, clean well-trimmed fingernails, and nice smiles showing clean teeth. It bothers me when I see employees wearing wrinkled, dirty, stained, torn clothes that fit poorly. Their attire is better suited to a backyard.
The clothes people wear at your company are a sign of how much the company cares about its professional appearance, which then transfers to caring about the employees’ appearance in all other aspects of their work. If a company appears not to care about their own personal appearance, what else might it not care about in its work? Tests have shown when an office is more professionally dressed, productivity and accuracy increases. Also, when you hold an event that specifies a certain attire (example: black-tie) everyone attending—staff and board members included—must dress in what is being advertised. Otherwise, you are not holding the event in full integrity. Volunteers should equally be asked to wear specific clothes… perhaps black pants and white shirt/blouse.
8. Say thank you and send thank-you notes. Say thank you and send thank-you notes as often as possible. They show your appreciation and acknowledgment of someone’s work and contributions to the organization. They are the key and at the core of building and sustaining lasting relationships among co-workers, bosses, clients, customers, family, friends and anyone with whom you come into contact. For the best impact, send thank you notes, written by hand and sent by regular mail, within 24 to 48 hours after the event. You can never write too many.
BONUS: One of my biggest pet peeves when attending events is how the organizers pre-print name tags, often at a font size that cannot be read at any distance. What a waste of intention and energy! Name tags are the most critical component to the success or failure of an event. It’s the difference between making or not making important connections by virtue of seeing someone’s name tag at a distance. See Name Tag Etiquette – Printing Name Tags or at http://www.advancedetiquette.com/blog/communications/printing-name-tags/ to review the guidelines on how to pre-print nametags.
Question: What pet peeves to you have about companies and non-profits in terms of their professional image not being as good as they should be? Enter your comments below or send us an email at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com.
Friday, October 15th, 2010
This tip was based on a viewer question submitted through Staples.com.
QUESTION: Some of my colleagues tie up the printer by printing huge reports and spreadsheets. It’s inconvenient and sometimes it seems down right rude, but it’s also part of the work. Should I say something? What’s the protocol on printer use? Also, who should replace the toner and paper when the machine runs out?
RESPONSE: Most importantly, anyone sharing office equipment must use it with the utmost respect, care, and courtesy. You must also be sensitive to the needs of others. Remember, if you expect everyone with whom you work to clean up after themselves, you must model that behavior yourself.
Consider instituting these guidelines for your shared printer:
1. MULTIPLE PHOTOCOPIES. If you have a big print job, perhaps requiring more than ten copies of more than five pages each, consider printing one set and photocopying the rest. Photocopiers are typically faster and less costly to operate than printers. The efficient worker makes every effort to plan ahead in sending large print jobs to the photocopy department for duplication.
2. SCHEDULE AROUND OTHERS. If you must send a large job to the printer, try to schedule it when your co-workers go to lunch, or on a break, so you can complete your work uninterrupted.
3. BREAK UP LARGE PRINT JOBS. When you must complete a large job during prime work time, break up the large job by printing 25 copies at a time, allowing co-workers to print their work between sets. Overall, let small print jobs take precedence over large print jobs.
4. KNOW WHO IS IN CHARGE. Designate an attendant, and have it be part of their job responsibilities, to restock the paper shelf and other equipment supplies, as needed, and know who to contact when repairs are required.
5. ESTABLISH A SUPPLY SYSTEM. Do your part in maintaining the supplies needed to operate the machines. Decide as a group that the printer should never be left empty of an ample supply of paper in all bins, and that everyone understands the system. As a reminder, mark the last ream of paper with a large marking pen: “LAST REAM! Contact (name) at (extension number) to restock shelf” and remind everyone to contact the attendant when they open that ream. Depending on the needs of your company, you may want to mark the last two reams.
6. KNOW BASIC MAINTENANCE. Every person using shared equipment should be trained on how to use it properly and to take care of everyday situations, such as how to un-jam the machine, replenish paper bins, and, as appropriate, replace the toner cartridge.
7. LEAVE THE MACHINE OPERABLE. If the machine stalls or jams, or an indicator light appears, take time to undo the jam, fix the problem, or alert the attendant before leaving the machine. Never leave a machine in an inoperable state without letting others know.
8. AVOID WASTING PAPER. When using letterhead, colored paper, or any other type of specialty paper, be sure to remove all extra sheets before leaving the machine. Leave the bins with an ample supply of plain white paper.
BONUS: KEEP IT CLEAN. Avoid eating, drinking, or setting food and drinks near the printer. Accidents do happen.
NOTE: If you would like an authorized FREE copy of the above guidelines to post near your shared printer, please email us at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com and we’ll be happy to send you a copy, suitable for framing.
FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER. Pass this article to anyone you know who works in an office with a printer. In fact, make a copy of this article and keep it in your wallet or purse to hand anyone you know who complains about someone’s printer etiquette. Invite them to contact me with continued dialogue on this topic. I’d enjoy hearing from them.
QUESTION: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by locating this article at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/blog. You may also reach us at http://www.AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
Thursday, October 7th, 2010
The following is a poignant yet fun poem to read over and over again. In fact, I have it pinned up on the wall in front of my desk. It’s a great reminder of the simple courtesies we should all do at home, at work, at school, with friends, co-workers, family and everyone with whom we come into contact, anywhere in the world.
If you would like a full color, formatted copy of this poem, suitable for framing as you see here, please logging onto http://www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/Fulghum/. We’ll send you a link to print this out at no charge. Additionally, if you don’t have a color printer and still want it, you may also request a print of it sent to you by regular mail (on us) by emailing your full name and mailing address, with the subject of “Fulghum poem, please.”
EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
By Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
These are the things I learned:
• Share everything.
• Play Fair.
• Don’t hit people.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Clean up your own mess.
• Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
• Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.
• Wash your hands before you eat.
• Warm cookies and milk are good for you.
• Live a balanced life.
• Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
• Take a nap every afternoon.
• When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
• Be aware of wonder.
• Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup; they all die, so do we.
• And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere: The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation; ecology and politics and sane living.
if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or, if we had a basic policy in our nation and all nations to always put things back where we found them, to clean up our own messes, and did all other items listed above. And, it is still true no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
To me, the above says it all.
Copyright 1988 Robert Fulghum. http://www.robertfulghum.com/.
Reprinted with permission by Syndi Seid’s Advanced Etiquette.
FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER. Pass this article to anyone you know who has a pet. In fact, make a copy of this article and keep it in your wallet or purse to hand someone who is not being a responsible parent/pet owner. Invite them to contact me with continued dialogue on this topic. I’d enjoy hearing from them.
QUESTION: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by locating this article at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/blog. You may also reach us at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
Friday, October 1st, 2010
Whether you commute regularly by ferry, bus, train, subway, or trolley—anywhere in the world—or just ride public transportation for pleasure, here are 10 tips to think about and do at all times:
1. Be nice. When the doors open to enter, allow the elderly, disabled, pregnant women, people with infants, children, or luggage to enter ahead of you so you can help hold others back when the “stampede” takes place. Offer these same individuals a seat, assuming you are an able-bodied person who can just as well stand.
2. Don’t be in such a rush. When getting on and off, do not shove or push your way through the masses. Take your time and relax. Barging rarely accomplishes anything and may cause accidents.
3. Have your money and ticket ready. Do not stand in line or in front of the ticket depository fumbling for what you need. At the office or at home, take out your money or ticket and put it in a convenient pocket ahead of time. You’ll be able to pull it out in a flash and not hold up the line.
4. Do you stink? Be aware of your body odor, bad breath, or strong perfume. A friend told me how he sat next to a commuter who took off his shoes to rest his tired feet, and stunk up the entire area. Keep your shoes on until you get home. Don’t eat smelly foods on public transit either. In fact, eating is often not allowed.
5. Keep moving. Do not stop dead to think about where you want to head. Slowly move with the flow of traffic until you choose where you want to go, or step aside while you figure it out. Do not block doorways when you enter. It continues to amaze me how people do not move to the back of a bus where it is less congested. Please, do not blog the entrance!
6. Keep your voice down. Whether speaking to the person next to you or on your cell phone, speak quietly. Did you know in Japan cell phones are not allowed on public transportation? It sure must be a peaceful ride.
When on your cell phone, monitor how loudly you may be speaking. To tone it down, move your phone just a fraction of an inch from your ear when speaking. This will help you to hear your own voice more normally, without the cell phone blocking one ear. Press it back to your ear when listening. Do this back and forth until you are fully aware of how loudly you may be speaking. Also, keep conversations brief when on public transportation. Tell the person you will call them back when you are back to the office or home.
7. No foul language. Never use profane and inappropriate language and within earshot of others in public.
8. Pick up after yourself. Place cups, wrappers, and other garbage in proper trash receptacles. Do not let items blow away without making every effort to catch them for proper disposal.
9. Watch out if you carry a backpack or bags. Be aware of how wide your body becomes when you are wearing a backpack or carrying items over your shoulders or in your arms. Slow down when moving around to prevent whacking someone. When pulling or pushing a wheeled bag, be aware of the space you are taking up. Keep the bag as close to your own body as possible. When you put your stuff on the floor in a crowd, people can’t see below them and will likely trip over your bag, potentially causing injury.
10. No hogging seats. As much as you want to sit alone and have some privacy, forget it when crowds appear. Do not take up more space than your one seat. Placing an item on the seat next to you to make it appear occupied is being selfish and inconsiderate to others who equally deserve to sit as much as you.
BONUS: Parking lots. Forget saving a few steps and time by cutting across the parking lot. You may not realize it, but making cars stop to let you cross slows down traffic and potentially causes accidents. Instead, be good to yourself and others. Use walkways and crosswalks. Besides, studies have shown that such actions don’t really save any significant time to matter.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Do you have other commuter pet peeves to share? Send them in the comment section provided. If you live in an area that has unusual ways of doing things you’ve not seen elsewhere, share those differences and what manners or etiquette you think should be displayed versus what you see happening.